MOGGYBLOG

Tales of the
Moggy Horde
cat face
or
How I learned
To Stop Worrying
And Love Bast



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cat line drawing
1 Jan. 2005
Welcome to 2005! May you have a great year.

It's Querida's arbitrary birthday! I brought her home in May of 1987 when she was about 6 months old, so I've given her Jan. 1st as her arbitrary birthday. So she's 18 years old today, give or take a month.

Querida is doing well so far. It's easy to get pills into her, and she's been showing up entirely on her own to get food. She's not eating as much as I would like, but at least she's eating of her own volition. I'm putting her and her serving of special food inside the Cave and closing the gate so that other cats can't get at it or distract her.

Tomorrow comes the big exercise in doing the IV fluids. I'm not looking forward to that.

Puck has renewed his attacks on my click-clacker frog. I clacked the frog at him several times, but that only made him more intent. He carried it off to the floor. I looked away and looked down again just now, and there was Ariel with the frog instead! She finds it as fascinating as Puck did. She batting it around only a couple of feet away from my chair, which is quite brave of her.

Hah, she left the frog behind and now Diva has leapt upon it. Time to rescue Mr. Frog.

2 Jan. 2005
I made two attempts to get the IV fluids into Querida today and both attempts were utter, miserable failures. I'm doing something with inserting the needle into the flappy pouch of skin on her neck/shoulder area (as I was shown) and she cries and I freak out and it all goes to hell. Sigh...I don't think I could ever be a veterinarian.

They gave me two sizes of needles, so tomorrow I may try again using the smaller size.

However, she's eating quite well and drinking water, so the fluids may not be as important as otherwise.

4 Jan. 2005
I have't tried getting the subcutaneous fluids into Querida again, but in a little while Randy is coming out to hold her for me and I'll give it one more try. She seems to be doing fine otherwise.

However, Blue is not doing fine. He's been looking and acting poorly for weeks now. I suspect he has a problem with his throat, based on throwing up a lot, not eating well and a swallowing/coughing thing he does. He's lost weight, looks unhappy, and his inner eyelids are coming up.

Things have been complicated by being buried in snow for a week now. The local vet is closed tomorrow, another storm is moving in, leaving me only a narrow window of opportunity to get him to a vet. If we get more snow, even getting to the local vet becomes a problem. That means trying to dig enough snow to get our non-4WD Subaru out of the driveway so we could try taking Blue to a vet in Bakersfield. This may or may not be doable. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.

5 Jan. 2005
With Randy's wonderful help, we managed to get 90cc of fluids into Querida's withers. We were supposed to do 125cc, but by the time we got to 90cc she said, "I've had enough!!!" and struggled until the needle drew blood and we gave it up. Tomorrow I call my local vet and ask how critical the fluids are because she's not getting them from us.

Today it was Blue's turn. The local vet is closed on Wednesdays, plus we urgently needed to get into Bakersfield after being trapped for nearly two weeks by the snowstorms. We needed to do banking and major shopping and so forth before the next storm hits. I got a reference for a good vet in B'fld and when I explained the situation to them, they said to get there whenever we could and they'd get him in. I was impressed by their attitude.

Of course, the minute I walked into my office, Blue telepathically detected my intentions and wouldn't let me within ten feet of him. I tried to employ Cunning. I offered him a string to play with. He knew better. I had to slowly follow him around and around the office trying to blank the "catch him" thoughts from my mind until he got himself cornered and I caught him. He's a sweet, timid boy and never gives him any trouble or struggle, so once I had him there was no problem.

We liked this vet tremendously. He was quick, competent, had a great sense of humor, and inspired confidence. We hardly had to wait at all after walking in without a set appointment. And he cost about a third as much as my local vet to do a huge batch of tests. We agreed that whenever possible, we'll be bringing our cats down the hill to this vet. It's a long drive, but we have to come to B'fld fairly often anyway, so we'll just combine errands.

Blue certainly has something wrong, but we had to do lots of blood tests before the vet can pinpoint it. The inner eyelid was up on the right eye, but the left eye was more dilated than the right. Not good. The vet dilated both eyes to look for lesions on the retina that indicate taxoplasmosis. The left eye looked fine, but the right eye had abnormalities. The vet will call tomorrow once he gets the blood test results.

The main thing with Blue tonight is to get him to eat. That was the vet's biggest worry, as cats don't well without eating. Blue got out of the enclosure I put him in last night because I wasn't quite careful enough. Tonight, he gets locked up for his own good so I can get a real sense of whether or not he's eating.

6 Jan. 2005
The vet from Bakersfield called this morning. Most of Blue's tests came back negative or mostly normal with one big exception, his red blood cell count is dangerously low. There are also indications of possible kidney impairment, though this might also come from the fact that he's not eating and is somewhat dehydrated. Blue didn't eat anything last night as near as I could tell.

The vet wanted a urine test, something he wasn't able to get yesterday. Given how badly Blue is doing, I quickly called my local vet to discuss both Querida's and Blue's situations. She agreed to get them in if I could get there right away. I rushed around putting pills down throats, but the rest of the normal morning routine simply never happened.

Randy helped me carry the two cats out, during which Puck merrily pranced out the door and through the snow so that Randy had to put down Querida and chase Puck. With a bit more ado, I finally got the old 4x4 Subaru down our road and to the vet's where I then spent hours.

My local vet is thorough, which I appreciate. She checked Querida's general condition and was insistent that I need to get the fluids into her.

Then she checked Blue over carefully. We had the B'fld vet fax up the test results and she looked those over while the techs got a urine sample. Blue is doing worse today, in general, with his heart rate up and a hint of a heart murmur. My local vet even called and consulted with an internist because the findings are inconclusive. Their conclusion points to internal bleeding somewhere in the intestines, either from a foreign object that Blue has swallowed, or a condition in which the intestines get twisted or "telescoped" inside themselves, and this would account for the anemia. There are some other possibilities, mainly ruled out because he's only 9 1/2 years old.

We had long discussions. The harsh reality is that I'm badly tapped out financially, so surgery is probably beyond my means. Paying for Owl's leg and all the other vet bills recently has been more than I can absorb. Meanwhile, Blue isn't eating and is going downhill fast.

A tech came in and gave me a long, detailed lesson this time in doing the subcutaneous fluids. She did Querida, then she supervised while I did Blue. I learned a lot from her, and I must make this work, since Blue must have fluids every day, and Querida every other day.

I didn't get home and have lunch until 4 pm. I was understandably miserable. I consulted again with the B'fld vet who came up with one other thing to check that is related to Blue's red blood cells and could help us determine whether we're looking at impending kidney failure or an intestinal blockage. He won't know that until about noon tomorrow. Either way, it doesn't look good.

I have Blue in the Cave, which he's not happy about. He hasn't moved from his bed since he got home, and he's not eating. Damn.

Because the day was so screwed up, I didn't get around to giving out the Good Food this morning, and I only refreshed the water and cleaned the cat boxes for the first time at around 5 pm. Poor Ariel sat by the food bowls, terribly confused because the routine was completely out of whack. Now I must make amends by sticking to the evening routine and handing out the Good Food, as promised.

7 Jan. 2005
I gave Blue love and attention today as I tried my best to help him. He ate a few bites of canned food and threw it up five minutes later, then staggered a bit, laid down and panted. I liquefied some food in warm water and used a syringe to feed it to him, just a small amount to see whether he could keep it down. That seemed to work.

Around mid-afternoon, I was warming up the fluids and bracing myself to give them to Blue when Randy came in to say that he had shovelled out the cars and thought we'd be able to get to Bakersfield. Interstate 5 was closed when I'd checked about 15 minutes earlier, but when I checked again, they had finally opened it.

So we quickly got Blue into the car and drove down the hill. Shortly after we started driving, Blue hacked up some blood. I think that's when I knew we had reached the end. I had alerted Dr. K. that we were coming. When we got there, they got us right in.

He immediately took x-rays and gave us the bad news -- aggressive cancer. There was a large primary tumor in his abdomen, possibly on the liver, which had pushed Blue's stomach off to one side. But the worst of it was that it had metastasized into his lungs. His lungs were just black with it. There was no question what to do.
BLUE
May 1995 - 7 Jan. 2005

A little girl named the kitten and didn't want me to change the name, so I didn't. He had beautiful blue Siamese eyes mixed with gray tabby markings. I brought him home on the night of a blue moon, further qualifying the name

Not the smartest cat in the world, but very sweet and loving. He had a chirping purr, loved catnip and chasing strings. He was a good buddy to Puck and they were often found cuddling up together. He was a good moggy.

May he romp forever in fields of catnip filled with fat mice and slow lizards.
Blue

8 Jan. 2005
To my utter shock, Puck and Owl got into a nasty brawl and Owl was the primary aggressor, even chasing Puck at one point. I had to do much yelling and chasing to break it up. I would never have believed Owl had it in him to fight. It just goes to show that the quietest moggy can surprise you. There was no damage done beyond a few tufts of hair flying.

I have no idea what could have set that off. One guess is that Puck tried to cuddle up next to the heater with Owl, the way Puck used to do with Blue, and Owl for whatever reason got annoyed about it. Maybe Puck accidentally hurt Owl's leg, though Owl certainly wasn't letting his leg interfere with the fight. It's a mystery.

I managed to give Querida most of her fluids today. It went much better this time, but toward the end she suddenly surged out of my grip and that was the end of that.

10 Jan. 2005
I heard a raging cat fight outside my office. I ran outside and found that a big orange tabby had driven a brown tabby-tom way up into a tree and had him trapped there. They both ran off in quick order once I appeared on the scene. I've seen both of them around several times since we moved in and am pretty sure they come from the House That Is The Source of All Cats.

This marks Ariel's third month with us. Things remain pretty much the same. She's getting along well with the rest of the Horde. I saw her sniff noses with Querida the other day and I saw her rub up against Tosca and Puck on other occasions, though sometimes Puck tries to play rough with her and she's not ready for that. She'll eat her Good Food only inches away from me, play with us, and let us get close to her, but touching is still verboten.

Her new favorite place is in a cave-like box amidst the upper walkways I created by placing 2x4's between various shelves, and between the shelves and my taller filing cabinet. I put a cushion in the box for her and that's where she sleeps most of the time. The walkways give the cats access to the shelves by the windows, and from there to the tops of other shelves. I'm sure she likes being way up there where she can look down on me. She has a circuitous stealth route to the ground: across one board, jump down to second level of shelves, wind around behind the boxes on that shelf, then jump down to the floor.

11 Jan. 2005
I made two attempts to do subQ fluids on Querida today and once again met with utter failure. She is absolutely determined that I will NOT get away with doing this to her. She fights and squirms and the needle pops out and the claws flail and I give up. Even my Vulcan Death Pinch was of no use. We're talking Dervish With Razor Blades here.

On the up side, she's eating and seemingly doing well and I can at least get pills into her.

13 Jan. 2005
I had a delightful moment yesterday. I was sitting at my computer when Ariel's head popped up to one side of my desk. Then she jumped onto my desk, explored the additional table area behind my monitor, and finally came and sat on one corner of my desk not far from me. I was careful to not make any moves toward her and to only watch her indirectly, though I did say hello to her. After a couple of moments, she left on her own.

It's a little step, but I was pleased.

15 Jan. 2005
Puck was exceedingly interested in something that was happening outside the window. It turned out to be a young tabby that's been hanging around a lot recently, and he had found his way onto the roof of the house immediately behind us. Puck could barely contain himself.

Tribble threw up a lot yesterday. I've been watching him closely every since to see if it was a fluke. So far, he seems to be completely back to normal, but after what happened with Blue, I'm more paranoid.

16 Jan. 2005
This morning I had to scold Puck because he had Ariel backed up inside the "cave" and was seemingly giving her a hard time. I picked up a couple of cat toys and played with Puck, Ariel, Theseus and Diva for a few minutes.

I went back to work and a short time later, Puck and Ariel were romping around the office. Dashing here and running there, no hassles or disputes. When I was leaving for lunch, I was delighted to see Puck and Ariel on the shelf by the window, and Puck was grooming Ariel. He licked her head, gave her a love bite on the neck, then licked her head some more. I'm hoping that those two will become good play buddies.

17 Jan. 2005
Diva was in the catbed that Owl wanted to lay down in, so he simply sat on her. Which she naturally complained about before vacating. I almost managed to get a photo of Diva's head sticking out from under Owl's butt, but I wasn't fast enough.

It looks like Ariel might have a small bit of fur missing from her rear end, but of course I can't get close enough or get hold of her to have a good look. Probably from Puck roughhousing with her.

18 Jan. 2005
Puck knocked over my coat rack again. It's an old-fashioned wooden style freestanding coat rack, not entirely steady on its feet to begin with. This time, it crashed into the heater behind my chair and the top piece that contains all the actual coat-holding hooks came off completely. I had to wrestle it back together. I'm sure this will not stop the Lord of Mischief from knocking it over another time when he so pleases.

Ariel got quite indignant with me last night for having the audacity to try and pet her. She threw a flurry of paw-bats in my direction. Never connected with me, but I think she was making a point: "Behold my blinding speed, human! I can whap you twenty times in a single second if I so choose! Back off!"

21 Jan. 2005
All quiet in moggyland, so I thought I'd simply share an oblivous Puck taking advantage of a most put-upon Owl (who moved shortly afterwards).

Puck & Owl

23 Jan. 2005
It was long past time to bring out The Dreaded Sucking Monster. I haven't vacuumed my office since Oct. Why October? That was when we brought Ariel home and I didn't want to traumatize her with the vacuum cleaner until she'd had some time to settle in. I have an ancient, but incredibly tough Kenmore canister that makes a lot of noise. The hose is now 80% made of duct tape, but the durable old thing still works.

At any rate, three months is enough. You can imagine -- if you dare -- the condition of my office after three months of no vacuuming. The dust bunnies had formed civilizations.

So I dragged out the Sucking Monster and slew emergent civilizations. And really, it only took Ariel a few minutes of quiet to reappear, acting no worse for the experience.

24 Jan. 2005
I was scanning the cover of my latest book, an educational book (5th grade level) on Watson and Crick and DNA. I had put the book on my desktop scanner and in the middle of the scan, I looked over and there was Ariel perched on top of the scanner. She was investigating the strange sound, I think. This put her within arm's reach of me.

Then she went off and got silly, so of course I had to take pictures.
Ariel
The bungie cord is MINE!
Ariel
Is that the papparazzi?
Ariel
Why, yes, I am totally adorable. Why do you ask?

26 Jan. 2005
Puck was a frustrated boy. I saw him on the shelves next to the window, growing more and more agitates. I went over to see what was up. Another tabby was perched on the back fence, which is only about 5 feet away. Puck and the tabby were having a stare-off and the other cat's tail was entirely POUFFED OUT. If Puck could have figured out a way to jump right through the glass, I'm sure he would have. He had to content himself with running around on the shelves and lashing his tail vigorously.

We had a young black cat visit the yard this morning. It looked to be maybe 5-6 months old, and quite interested in the birds gathered around the birdfeeder. Then my neighbor's feisty Bengal-mix, Harley, came and chased him off. Harley is large and beautiful, but rather aggressive toward other cats. He lets us scratch his ears and rub his belly, though.

A short time ago, Theseus began crying loudly in some kind of distress. He would throw himself down on his side and cry some more, roll around, cry some more...visions of rushing to an emergency room in Bakersfield swam through my head. Gaaaahhh...

I began to examine him. I knew his butt had gotten bad recently, but this was beyond bad. He's so furry, it's not easy to see what's going on back there, but he was *caked* with crap.

Thus began the Great Theseus Butt-Cleaning Circus and Wrestling Match. I got hold of him around the middle and tried to shave the excess fur and gunk. That lasted a whole two minutes, if that long. The super-duper, heavy-duty, bloody expensive pet shaver I bought was nearly useless. Not even that thing can handle his fur.

Next, I tried cutting off the larger chunks using a special pair of grooming scissors I'd bought at the pet store. Again, totally useless. I chased Theseus down again and tackled the problem with some wet wipes. Got a little bit off that way, but I could only do any of these things in one minute gasps before he was off and away. Fortunately, though he won't hold still, he also is good about letting me catch him.

I abandoned the useless scissors and tried using regular large scissors that I know will cut through fur. I have to be extremely careful, though, because years back when I had another furry cat with a butt problem, Hubble, I accidentally did some serious damage while trying the same thing. This time, I scratched Theseus at the base of his tail, which he loves. He arches up, raises his tail and I went for snipping off as much matted crap as I could while being very careful about where the scissors went. That actually worked the best of all my attempts. I removed the majority of the problem that way.

Then I held him down for one final session with the shaver, to clear off as much more fur as I could from the area. He didn't tolerate that for long. Finally, I used another wet wipe to get him as clean as I could. He's now in decent shape, albeit rather put out about the whole thing.

I can't say I enjoyed it much, either.

30 Jan. 2005
I'm sorry, but there's no polite way to say this.

Ariel is a Food Slut. It's not enough for her to get her own private serving of the Good Food. As soon as she gulps that down next to me, she dashes off to the other food bowls to inhale whatever is left. She isn't beyond whacking another cat out of the way either.

I brought out a small treat of tuna-flavored water (from a can of tuna I'd opened for myself). I had some especially set aside for Querida, but Ariel wanted more. I didn't want her to intimidate Querida away from it, so I figured I'd just reach in to pet Ariel and that would drive her off. I didn't figure on the determination of a Food Slut. Rather than let me drive her off, she whacked me several times softly (no claws) without budging. I kept trying to pet her and she finally got tired of it and moved off.

I suppose her upbringing is to blame. She was one of 35 or so cats having to compete for the same food, so I can understand she would be aggressive about it.

Since she's young, she seems to be absorbing the food without putting on excessive weight, though she certainly has filled out. What worries me is what she might turn into if she keeps up these eating patterns as she gets older. Food Slut could equal Big Fat Moggy. I'd had to see her end up ten feet wide like Theseus.

2 Feb. 2005
For the past week or so, Tribble has been wandering around the office wailing at the top of his lungs. When he wants to, he has a piercing, complaining, whining wail (which he inherited from Querida) that is rough on the nerves. I've been following him around when he does this (every morning), trying to figure out what was bothering him. I finally concluded it was linked to using the cat box and he probably had a bladder or kidney infection.

He was hauled off to the vet in B'fld this morning. I heard the whine-complaint all the way there, along with one chorus of "Wuuf-wuuf-wuuf!!" He's an expressive cat.

I really like this vet a lot. He tries to balance being thorough and careful with keeping the cost down, and he's fun to deal with. He cracked me up when he said he wanted to do a full-body x-ray of Tribble to check all his innards and referred to it as a "cat-o-gram". LOL!

Tribble had the cat-o-gram and everything looked pretty good. The urinalysis showed a urninary infection and h'es been sent home with Baytril.

Right after I got home, I had an electrician working on the wiring in my office, so he, Randy and I were going in and out of the door every two minutes as we tested fuses and circuits. Puck was quick to take advantage of this confusion to dash out the door. I caught him pretty easily, but decided I'd better keep him out of the way. All I have to do is open the door of any cat carrier and Puck will get inside it, so that's what I did...then locked him in temporarily.

But Sly was the next one to make the mad dash to freedom and Sly is not the most level-headed cat on the block. I carefully followed him, worried he was going to head under the front porch or across the street. Luckily, he paused to sniff the olive tree and I nabbed him. He got locked inside the Cave.

The prisoners were released as soon as the electrician was gone.

It took another half-hour before Ariel came out of hiding, though.

3 Feb. 2005
Knobby came by for some attention, something he doesn't do often because he's such a timid, neurotic boy. I felt a scab on his neck, so I got a good grip on him and took him over to the "medicine cabinet". This is a short bookshelf where I keep all the cat supplies.

I have to keep a Vulcan Death Pinch on Knobby or he'd escape in a second. I cleaned off the fresh wound and found a small bite mark underneath. Not too serious, but he's prone to getting abscesses, so I cleaned it out well and applied some Neosporin.

I wonder who he tangled with? The most likely culprit's name begins with P-U-C-K...

5 Feb. 2005
Puck is in full-on Snot Mode this morning, jumping on Ariel, picking fights, hanging off the back of my chair. I wish I could let him outside to burn off excess energy.

Or maybe get him a moggy treadmill.

8 Feb. 2005
I managed to stroke Ariel's back twice today. The first time, she was determined to stay at the food bowl, so she simply gave me an indignant look and raised one paw in the air: "If you touch me again, I will give you *such* a whap." But she didn't and I left her alone.

The second time, a few minutes later, she danced away only a short distance and came right back. As we go into the fourth month of residence, her "no touch" rule remains strictly in effect. Since she's approx. 10 months old now, I worry somewhat about her reaching cathood without making more progress on the touching business. I'm afraid she might get set in her ways and I'll never be able to touch her.

I continue to worry about Owl's inability to gain weight. He remains skinny and I don't like it. Plus he's pulling fur out again, in spite of the anti-histamines. It might be an allergic reaction to the new dry food I bought at Costco, in an effort to get the cat food bill down. That'll teach me. It's back to the other food a.s.a.p.

9 Feb. 2005
I picked up some of the other cat food for Owl. I hope it solves the current fur-pulling problem, as it's getting worse.

Meanwhile, Tribble continues to wander the office caterwauling. He's been on the anti-biotics long enough that he shouldn't be in pain, so I have absolutely no clue what this is about. The other day, he sat at the water bowl and yowled before he got around to drinking. When he gets into his bed for the daily nap, he spends a minute yowling. Damned if I can figure it out.

Kate has been quite a lap-potato lately. That's slightly unusual for her, but I don't mind. She's a sweet, quiet girl and doesn't interfere with my typing TOO much. [g]

10 Feb. 2005
For the first time, I saw Ariel use one of the scratching posts. She must have learned by watching the other cats. I'm glad to see it because she has a knack for getting her claws stuck in the carpet when she's playing, such as pouncing on a string. Clipping her claws is, of course, right out of the question.

Moggy pics:
Puck & Querida
Puck just loves Querida's butt.
Puck & Querida
Querida patiently endures Puck's attentions.
Ariel
Ariel likes having the high ground.
sly
Sly does his vulture imitation.
Tribble
Tribble blinks for the camera: "Would you puh-leese stop flashing that thing at me?"
Owl
Owl's glowy demon eyes and the knee that doesn't bend.
Tosca
Tosca: "Honestly! Can't you papparazzi leave me alone!"

12 Feb. 2005
I was somewhat worried about Tribble last night because he behaved outside his normal pattern. He's usually one of the first moggies to show up for his treats and to stick his head into the food bowls. Instead, he was up in his high box-bed and wouldn't come down for anything. Didn't want treats. Didn't come down for the Good Food.

It's difficult for me to get up far enough to check on him when he's up there, but I clambered up precariously and still couldn't entice him out. He looked fine and was happy to roll over and let me rub his belly. I figure he was simply off his feed for some reason. Earlier when he'd been in my lap, I heard his stomach or intestines gurgling loudly, so he might have had an upset and wasn't hungry.

Mainly, I needed to get his pills into him. He's been avoiding taking the pills in his treats until I realized he didn't like the new flavor of treats. Luckily, I had a package of the old stand-by, chicken. I clambered up there again with treats and pills and he took them for me with no trouble.

Or so I think. A bit later, I looked down at the floor near my desk and found two Tapazole (the thyroid control medicine) lying there. One was half a Tapazole and Tribble is the one who gets half a pill at night. It's a fair guess he left both behind. If he was off his thyroid med for a day, that might also explain feeling not so good.

This morning he was back to normal, though later I found his piece of anti-biotic from this morning. He managed to leave that behind when he ate the treat. Sigh...he's up in the high bed again, so I'll wait and get it into him later.

Puck and Ariel have had a wonderful romp, with Ariel chasing Puck as much as he was chasing her. Ariel was also doing the Lurk & Pounce. I love to see that. Now they're hanging out at the window, watching birdies.

13 Feb. 2005
Imagine my surprise last night when I turned off my computer, put the cover over the keyboard and shoved my chair under the wing of my desk only to realize that Ariel was on a cushion right under the wing. She didn't bat an eyelash at the chair being slid to rest right next to her and didn't run away after I'd spotted her. She was lying next to Puck, so I think the romance is flourishing. ;)

In fact, right now they're engaged in Heavy Romping. Jumping on one another, leaping about, tumbling, racing around...she's perched on top of the other desk. Puck just raced out of the Cave and Ariel leapt upon him and they're off! Zoooom!

15 Feb. 2005
Well, crap, the last thing I wanted to do today was make an unscheduled trip to Bakersfield, but Querida is wandering around the office crying and leaving small pools of bloody urine here and there, so it's off to the vet.

Meanwhile, the bloody Hound of the Baskervilles is baying somewhere nearby in the neighborhood.

I saw a different vet this time around, a woman that I liked very much. I'd brought all of Querida's records with me, and the vet was concerned about an old girl like Querida having another serious infection right after being treated for one in Jan.

She took Querida into the back to extract some urine (lots of blood in it). When she came back in, the vet was much amused. "Well, there's nothing wrong with her appetite." While she was in the back room, Querida tried to filch a piece of someone's chicken sandwich.

So the old girl is back on Baytril for two weeks. If this doesn't clear up the problem, it will mean a lot more tests to see what else might be going on.

Meanwhile, Tribble threw up this morning, and Owl threw up two minutes ago. What is it with cats and throwing up?

19 Feb. 2005
I'm laughing so hard. Ariel has been chasing her tail! This is the first time I've seen her do that. She's going around and around and around in circles like a mad dervish!

20 Feb. 2005
Here's Ariel being excessively cute.
Ariel
"You're telling me this cat food company used some hussy as a look-alike for me?"
Ariel
"I'll have to check this out for myself."
Ariel
"Say, that makes me hungry. Isn't it time to feed me?"
Ariel
"Besides, she's definitely not as cute as me."

22 Feb. 2005
Owl surprised me the other day. He's such a laid-back cat, that I find it out of character when he gets aggressive. He lurked behind a bookshelf until Knobby was leaving the catboxes, then he jumped Knobby. Nothing serious and Knobby simply trotted off, but it was most unOwl-like behavior. Maybe he was trying to emulate the way Puck plays. Beats me.

No improvement in Owl's weight or hair-pulling problem.

Querida seems to be doing well on the anti-biotics. The past couple of days, she's worked up enough energy to jump onto my desk. She doesn't do that very often. She still occasionally lets out an ear-piercing yowl for no apparent reason. So does Tribble, for that matter.

I'm not sure Tribble is doing as well as he should be. He seems generally all right and is eating and all of that, but I can't get him to show interest in his treats. He's normally one of the most insistent of the treat fanatics.

But I'm tapped out with vet bills, so nobody's going to the vet unless it's really, really urgent.

23 Feb. 2005
I think Knobby had a nightmare. He was sleeping quietly to one side of me when he suddenly jerked upright to his feet and stood there looking confused. Does anyone doubt that cats dream? I don't. Anyone who has watched a cat's paws and whiskers twitch, and make sounds while they're sleeping, knows full well they dream.

Poor Diva's eyes were rather bad this morning. She has constant gooey, goopy, weeping eyes. I've had her to numerous vets, but none of them has been able to do anything for her. I've been giving her Lysine for quite some time now, but I don't see that it's doing much good.

Ariel wouldn't eat her food next to me this morning. I think she was punishing me for trying to pet her earlier. Or even thinking about petting her. ;)

25 Feb. 2005
I may have to take Querida back to the vet after all. Today I saw her straining and straining to produce something in the catbox. She would also yowl loudly in the middle of it. Then she finally got something out, left the box and yowled again. I need to watch her carefully this weekend.

Warning: gross cat stuff ahead. I also think I've discovered the mystery cat that has been leaving stray turds here and there around the office for months. It was one of the last cats I would have suspected -- Sly. I caught him dragging his butt along the carpet and when he got up, he left a little present behind.

Henh. Ariel's chasing her tail again.

26 Feb. 2005
As I was about to go out the door last night, Querida threw up. That, added to her behavior in the catbox, had me worried. I've been debating taking her to the vet this morning. He was fully booked up for his half-Saturday, but was willing to let me come in anyway.

On closer examination, the throw-up was due to a hairball. The vet said the Baytril she's on could be causing some GI upset. Consequently, I've decided to wait and observe her closely for the rest of the weekend. If I'm not happy with how she's doing, I can take her in Mon. morning.

Puck is trying to knock over the coatrack for the umpteenth time.

There's a happy Owl purring away in my lap.

Later, Puck, Owl and Sly set out to prove how many cats can fit onto one cat bed.
Puck, Owl & Sly

27 Feb. 2005
Querida did her wailing and efforting thing in the catbox again today. She's definitely not constipated, but she may be having a lot of discomfort. She has three Baytril left to take, then we'll see how it goes.

Recently, Ariel has been a tiny bit vocal with me. She almost never makes so much as a peep and she never meows, but now and then (like when I'm about to give her the bowl of Good Food), she gives me a teeny chirp or mmmrrrrrpppp. I always chirp back. The No Touch Rule is still in effect, though.

1 March 2005
For some reason, Puck picks on Tosca. He'll wait until she gets into the catbox to do her business, then he glares at her like a troll and stands there ready to jump on her the minute she tries to leave the box. I hauled him away today and distracted him with string so that poor Tosca could finish in peace.

4 March 2005
Puck got way too rambunctious about jumping Ariel, who screeched like holy hell about it. I had to chase Puck around the office to get him literally off her tail, then I had Stern Words with him. I must say, it's the most noise I've ever heard out of Ariel.

We had a pretty Siamese stray in the yard. It came, as do all the other strays, from the House That Is The Source of All Cats. I've noticed quite a few full and part-blood Siamese cats around there, along with lots'o'tabbies, etc. The woman is rarely up at this house, but she's been there for the past few days doing some work around the place. Consequently the horde of cats, who use her house for food and shelter, are freaked out by her presence. Which leads to more strays than usual showing up here.

Nefreet has a talent for losing her toys. One minute she's happily tossing a toy around, the next minute it has inexplicably vanished. This leads to two grown adults crawling around on the floor on their hands and knees looking under furniture. I've decided that Nefreet has a Secret Power. She can open teeny-tiny wormholes and knocks the toys into them. Somewhere, on the other side of the galaxy, an alien cat is playing with Nefreet's lost toys.

I'm waiting for the day when the alien cat knocks one of its toys through the wormhole and into our living room.

6 March 2005
I suspect Ariel is going to be an Alpha Princess, and I think she's learning bad habits from the Puckster. Last night I caught her going after Kate. She even chased Kate, until I walked up behind her and she had to worry about me instead. Then a minute later, I saw her taking a whack at Sly.

She's calmed down a little on being a food slut, though. She's not going after every single particle of the Good Food, though she gets more than her fair share.

I need to trim Kate's front claws. She gets into my lap to knead, which hurts, but the worst part is that when I need to move, she doesn't simply get out of my lap. She has a mindless Kate Panic Moment because her claws get stuck in my pants and pulls loose by force rather than letting go. I now have several holes in this pair of track pants thanks to Kate.

7 March 2005
Both Querida and Tribble continue to let loose with the occasional piercing yowl. Sometimes they do it while in the catbox, but mostly they do it after leaving the box or for reasons I can't figure out at all.

They both seem to be doing well. Good appetites, plenty of energy. I suddenly realized today, while pilling Querida, that I couldn't hear the usual nasal congestion she's had for years. That's an improvement!

And yet I worry there's still something going on with them. I will keep watch, of course.

I haven't gotten far in clipping Kate's claws. She hates it and fights every inch of the way.

8 March 2005
Puck went after Sly and I went after Puck. Puck saw me coming and went, "Uh oh, she looks really mad." He bolted. I chased him around the office a bit. He ducked inside the Cave. I decided a short time-out would be just the thing, so I locked him inside there for about ten minutes. That calmed him down. After I let him out, I played with him for a few minutes to reassure him that I still loved him, even if he is a brat sometimes.

Found on the net -- this is absolutely hysterical!

http://www.tomatonation.com/roombaloo.shtml

10 March 2005
Tosca is once again playing with Owl's tail. Owl is once again ignoring her for all he's worth. No, now he's reached the Aggrieved State and has stalked off in disgust. It's hard to stalk off gracefully with a bum knee.

Kate's been uncharacteristically grumpy lately. I don't know why, unless it's fallout from Puck bothering her too much, except she doesn't get grumpy with him. I don't think she would dare.

13 March 2005
I'm not sure what set it off, but when I opened the door to my office last night, a cat grenade exploded. One cat, moving too fast for me to make out, took off a light-speed, which caused half a dozen other cats to explode off in various directions, hence a cat grenade.

Tribble used to love his chicken-flavored treats and it was easy to sneak a pill into him that way, then he went on strike against them. I bought some salmon-flavored treats and he's once again filled with enthusiasm and taking his pills the easy way. Maybe he just needed a change.

I heard a cat meowing and couldn't identify who it was. I had to look. It was Puck complaining about Theseus hogging the nice spot by the window. I never hear Puck talking! No wonder I didn't recognize it. He's so quiet, you'd think he didn't have a voice.

14 March 2005
A few photos for the day:
Puck
Puck savages Randy's foot in quest of the string toy.
Puck and Owl
The much put-upon Owl wonders how much of Puck's cuddling he has to tolerate.
Tosca and Diva
Tosca and Diva have a mother-daughter tiff. Diva wanted the bed. Mom said no.
Diva
Diva practices her amber-eyed glare to use on Tosca in the future.

15 March 2005
The phone rings. Randy asks me, "Is it your turn or mine?"

"Mine." We hang up. Cryptic, eh?

It's part of the nightly ritual. We take turns giving Nefreet her dollop of canned food for her nightly treat, but sometimes we forget whose turn it is. Right now, he's in the house probably being mercilessly badgered by Nefreet, whose internal clock is gearing up for Treat Time. But alas, she has to wait for me to come inside, and Randy has to endure the feline nagging.

We saw a totally adorable kitten in our yard today. We watched her from the kitchen window. She was maybe 4-5 months old and she was bounding around the yard chasing insects and chattering at the birdies. She was incredibly pretty -- a dark tabby with tortie mixed in.

And no, we are NOT, repeat NOT, going to adopt her. One untouchable Alpha Princess is enough to cope with.

She sure was cute, though.

16 March 2005
Puck had to have another time-out in the Cave this morning. He laid into Kate rather nastily. Ariel thought that having Puck in prison was great fun and proceeded to play with him through the gate.

Meanwhile, Ariel will go to great acrobatic lengths to avoid letting me score a petting-touch on her. She nearly did a complete back-flip and went somersaulting from the top of a shelf to the floor rather than let me give her a little scritch under the chin.

Poor Diva. I was pulling on my sweatshirt, flailing my hands around in the process, and accidentally bonked her on the head. She took off like a shot, looking terribly shocked. Then she didn't want to let me get near her to make up. Until I got the treats out, then suddenly all was forgiven. I gave her lots of love to make up for it.

19 March 2005
I spent many hours on the phone trying to figure out why the wireless connection on my Dell laptop had suddenly decided not to work. One session in the afternoon got me nowhere. I was on with a guy from Dell tech support from 9 pm to 11 pm, and at one point he even conferenced in someone from SBC.

Randy came in to see what was going on, since I'm usually in the house by 10 or so. The cats were mightily upset because they are used to getting their canned food by 9:30ish. At one point, Puck got up on the back of chair, onto my shoulders and mugged me. I'm trying to carry on a coherent conversation with the tech guy with this crazed cat dancing on my head. Randy rescued me.

We had solved half the problem and apparently reached a dead end when a final piece fell into place and we solved it. Good thing, too, since the cats were mounting an armed revolution. Or would that be a pawed revolution?

21 March 2005
Our yard has become Tabby Central. This morning we first saw a fluffy, long-haired mop of brown tabby that was lusting after the birds. A bit later, we saw the pretty tabby-tortie kitten I mentioned the other day, following on the heels of an older brother or sister. The kitten was joyously pouncing on insects.

One of my own Tabby Mafia, the Puckster, managed to scoot out the door this afternoon where he spent several deliriously happy moments rolling in the dirt. I wish I could let him out more, poor boy.

22 March 2005
I'm hustling Owl off to the vet today. In addition to getting thinner and thinner, he's had a disturbing amount of blood in his stools in the past couple of days. Wish me luck.

LATER:
Unfortunately, I won't know anything more about Owl's condition until tomorrow afternoon when the blood tests come back. We went for a full panel of tests. His symptoms could mean kidney problems, hyperthyroid, diabetes or any number of things.

I was appalled to discover that he's down to a bit over 10 lbs. He was 16 lbs. when he first came to me! Of course, he was also overweight by a couple of pounds, but 10 lbs. is way, way too low.

He sure doesn't act like a sick cat, though. He was sprightly enough just now about jumping onto my desk to give me a sniff, and then jumping back down again.

Amusing moment -- I brought in the carrier, set it down, opened it to let Owl out and Owl had barely cleared the door before Puck dashed inside and made himself at home.

23 March 2005
Damn. The vet was swamped all day and wasn't able to get back to me until late this afternoon. I've gotten the kind of news that seems to be good news on the surface, but is bad news underneath.

All of Owl's results, every one of them for all of his functions, came back within normal range. Sugar levels, kidney, liver, thyroid -- okay. They even tested for leukemia and feline AIDS - negative.

Sounds great, but it means we are left with no idea what's wrong and the unpleasant reality that one of the main possibilites that now looms is cancer, a main one being colon cancer.

I'm taking him back tomorrow morning for a cat-o-gram (full body x-ray) to see if we can find obvious masses or other signs to lead toward a diagnosis.

24 March 2005
I dropped off Owl at the vet's at 11 am. They were fully booked, so they were going to have to squeeze him in and they asked me to come back at 2. I found a couple of errands to do, had lunch and read the Newsweek I'd brought with me.

I went back at 2, then had to wait quite a while. Finally, I got to see the vet. She showed me the x-rays, going over them in detail.

It's terribly frustrating. We can't find anything wrong with him. He had totally normal blood work, and now he has a totally normal set of x-rays.

I had a long talk with the vet. It seems to come down to main possibilities that are left. The malign possibility is that he has a lymphatic cancer in his intestines. It wouldn't show up on the x-rays. The only way to know for sure would be surgery to do a biopsy. That's beyond what I can afford. Also, if we did the biopsy and it turns out to be cancer, there's nothing to be done about it. He would only have a matter of months left, at best. It seems pointless to me.

The benign possibility is the feline version of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) in which he's having inflammation, maybe caused by a food allergy or who knows what. Given the problem with his skin, this wouldn't surprise me. We're giving him Prednisone for a couple of weeks, and I have to find a way to feed him a special hypo-allergenic food.

This is a huge logistical problem for me. I keep dry food out so that The Horde can free-feed as needed. To keep Owl away from it, I'd have to keep it away from all the cats. I've spent the past hour trying to find a place in my office where I could put the dry food, so that the other cats would reach it, but not Owl.

Forget it. He manages to jump up to or onto any location I try. Plus there's the problem of Querida not being able to reach it either, if I could find a place Owl can't reach. Tribble isn't exactly a powerful jumper these days either.

Basically, the rest of the Horde will have to go without dry food during the day. I'll have to give out the canned food in the morning and put Owl into the Cave by himself to have his special food. Then they'll all have to go without food for the rest of the day. Guess how much fun THAT is going to be. I was gone all day today and I was practically mugged by the moggies because the dry food had been reduced to tiny kibble bits that they won't touch. They couldn't fathom what I was up to putting the food bowls in weird places, and they're taking irritated whacks at one another as they crowd to get at it.

Then I'll have to do a similar routine at night, after which I'll lock Owl inside the Cave for the night and put the dry food out for the rest. That way they can at least free-feed during the night.

I can't figure out what else to do. I discussed with Randy the idea of bringing Owl into the house, but then we're up against Nefreet the Psycho-Bitch who hates any other cat. It would be a miserable situation. Plus Nefreet needs to have access to her dry food, so really, the problem is the same.

This is going to one big fat PITA. I'm hoping like crazy that it's nothing worse than the IBS.

25 March 2005
The first day of the new food regimen has gone...okay. Owl seemed fine with being in the Cave during the night, though he was glad to get out. By mid-afternoon, The Horde was hungry, restless and on the prowl for food. Owl was searching everywhere. I finally broke down and gave him an extra bit of his food in the Cave, while I put the dry food out for the rest of the moggies. Then put it away again afterwards.

The Horde is peeved and baffled, I think. Mind you, there's a few of them that would benefit from not having a food out all the time. Unfortunately, I have to worry about the old cats who need to keep some weight on.

I'll bet less of the canned food is left behind tonight. I have a hunch they'll lick the bowls clean. ;)

26 March 2005
Day two of the Moggy Food Confusion Fest. Owl chowed down a large amount of his new food yesterday, but today was more interested in getting out of the Cave to eat what the rest of The Horde had left behind. He's in my lap at the moment, purring away. The rest of the cats are scattered around beaming a telepathic message in unison: "Where's the FOOD?!"

For those who haven't discovered it yet, the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics has been moved to its new domain at themoggy.com.

27 March 2005
I heard the pre-combat yowling, leapt up from my chair and ran around my desk, but I wasn't fast enough. Puck attacked Knobby and had him upside-down, biting at his throat. Fur was flying.

I broke it up and gave Puck a 15-minute time-out inside the Cave. Knobby was cowering under my desk. I checked him out, but I don't think actual blood was drawn.

Meanwhile, the nightly chorus of "Where is the FOOD?!" is growing more intense. I'm not sure how much longer my sanity can endure this.

28 March 2005
Ariel behaved oddly this morning. She wouldn't come over to me for her food, she wouldn't eat the food no matter where I put it, and she didn't go around pigging out on the other bowls of food. She was in some weird, flighty, non-eating mood which is entirely unlike the food slut I've come to know. I'm curious to see how she behaves when I get out the Good Food tonight.

Owl continues to have a strong appetite, so I've been supplementing with an extra feeding around mid-afternoon, at which time I also put out the dry food for the rest of The Horde while Owl is having his canned food inside the Cave. I hope, hope, hope I will see him put some weight on in the near future.

29 March 2005
Owl the Silent has become talkative. Very, very talkative. As soon as I come into the office in the morning, he's talking at me to let him out of the Cave. He then spends large portions of the day having "discussions" with me about the lack of available food. He doesn't have a standard yowly Siamese voice. It's more a scratchy old-time phonograph record voice.

A few minutes ago he tried making the short jump from a stool onto my desk and failed to make it. Luckily, he fell onto a cushion that I keep right below that spot, but I rushed over anyway and lifted him onto my lap. I think the bad knee still screws him up at times.

Couple of cute photos:
Puck
Puck: " Is that M for Moggy?"
Puck and Kate
Usually, Puck is chasing Kate around and giving her a hard time. Then he does this. What I don't get is why she lets him! Oh, and there is a cat bed under there somewhere.

1 April 2005
I swear Owl has talked to me more in the past few days, than in the entire nearly-8 years that I've had him.

There is nothing more obnoxious than a Horde of hungry cats. But they probably feel the same way about me by the time the night feeding finally comes around.

That said, Ariel once again turned her nose up at the food this morning. She seems perfectly fine, and since I was worried about her being too much of a Food Slut, I'm not that bothered to see her eating less. I don't want her to become a blimpette.

Another small "first" last night. I turned around in my chair and found Ariel sleeping in one of the cat beds next to the heater behind me. Pretty daring of her!

And now HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I've assigned April 1st as the arbitrary birthdays for Puck and Ariel. Puck is now 4. Ariel is 1 year old and as untouchable as ever. My wish for the birthday fairy is for Ariel to be happy to be petted by this same time next year.

Here's a great chuckle. How to Sleep With an Allergic Human.

2 April 2005
Poor Puck has either a cold or allergies. He's been sneezing vehemently for two days.

Meanwhile, this whole things with the cats and food is driving me crazy. Owl is climbing the walls trying to get at the dry food, then ignores the new canned food when I give it to him. Yeesh.

3 April 2005
Check out this wonderfully funny page.

My Cat Annie

For more laughs, I've added lots of new photos to the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics.

4 April 2005
I wish I could tell whether Owl is responding to the new regime. Too soon for that, I guess. He's so unhappy about being locked up all night that even the lure of food isn't proving strong enough. Last night I had to find him and haul him to the Cave.

It looks like I'll have to take Tribble back to the vet. He threw up bucket-loads, so now I know who's been doing that for the past week for so. Not good.

No sneezing out of Puck today. He must have gotten over whatever it was.

5 April 2005
Hauling Tribble off to the vet tomorrow.

Owl's starting pulling his fur out again. When I called to make the appointment for Tribble this morning, I asked whether it was okay to give him anti-histamines along with the steroids. They said yes. I stopped giving him the anti-histamines when I started him on the steroids to give him a break from taking two pills and to see whether the steroids alone would keep him from denuding himself. Nope.

6 April 2005
Couldn't get Tribble to the vet today. He's rescheduled for Friday.

Puck gave his cold to Ariel . Poor girl has been sneezing all day.

There is nothing, NOTHING, more persistent and annoying than a hungry Siamese. You have been warned.

7 April 2005
He's driving me crazy, I tell you! It's Siamese Cat Torture.

This afternoon, even hampered by his bad leg,Owl managed to get all the way to the top of the set of shelves that backs onto the bookshelves where I've been putting the dry cat food up out of reach.

This requires that he: jump up a set of "steps" created by three chairs that I've clumped together for the sake of the other cats, then onto a stack of boxes, then a jump up onto a 2'x4' board walkway that leads to the top of a set of storage shelves, a jump across the gap between those shelves and another set of shelves, then across another board walkway to the top of yet another row of shelves, and thus over to the top of the bookshelves.

Having gotten there, here is what he did.
Owl
Ah hah! So that's where she's hidden the dry food!
Owl
Nothing can escape my reach! And while I'm at it, I'll scatter half of it on the floor.
Owl
Hmmm...what I really need are hands. Or a more compliant human.
In other news, Ariel is still feeling poorly. She's all sneezy and congested.

9 April 2005
I didn't end up taking Tribble to the vet. I'm going to observe him a while longer, since in every other respect he seems to be doing well. I'm so far behind the curve on vet bills, I have to be more careful about what I can afford to do.

Ariel is still sneezing, but she's eating and otherwise seems to be fine. Lately when I come into the office, I find her cuddled up with Querida in the cat bed next to the heater behind my chair. It's a sweet thing to see, though I really hope she doesn't give this cold to the Old Dame. Of course, the moment I come in, Ariel takes off since they would simply be too close to the human.

As for Owl, I have thrown up my hands and surrendered. Obviously, I could never be a secret agent, because all they would need to break me in no time at all is to lock me in a room with a hungry Siamese. I simply couldn't take it anymore, in my face, complaining plaintively, hour after hour. Aided and abetted by Tribble and others.

The food regime has changed. I'm continuing to lock Owl up overnight with a bowl of his special food. I'm not giving out the regular canned food in the morning because the rest of The Horde was leaving too much of it behind. I'll give it to them once a day, in the evening, after Owl is in the Cave and can't get to it.

Meanwhile, I've gone back to leaving the dry food out and accessible during the day. Yesterday, Randy and I went to a Petsmart and investigated the best possible dry food we could get. We got lucky and ran into an employee that actually knew about cat nutrition. We ended up with a highly digestible food with none of the crap stuff in it like chicken by-products or corn, plus it's formulated with vitamins specifically for indoor cats. We spent a long time talking to him and he gave us coupons for two free 8 lb. bags of food, so we were delighted.

I'm taking a chance letting Owl eat the dry food, but frankly, it's either that or go completely NUTS. Looking at him right now, I think his face looks a bit less gaunt. I hope I'm right and that he'll continue to put on weight.

10 April 2005
The problem with leaving the dry food out is that Owl is turning up his long Siamese snoot at the special canned food, and I still need him to eat good portions of that. So today I put the dry food away in the afternoon and lo! the moggies are gathering around beaming the hungry vibes at me.

I was worried about Tribble last night because he didn't show up at all for either the treats for the Good Food. He was way up in his box on the top of the highest shelves where it's a true feat of balancing and dexterity to get to him. But get to him I did, in order to give him the thyroid pill. He seems fine today, so I guess he simply too tired to bother with food just then.

Oh, yuck, Knobby just sneezed all over my hand, which he's now licking clean.

11 April 2005
The Moggyblog is going on a short hiatus while I fly across country for a family reunion. I should be back around 4/22. I'm sure the moggies will be glad to see me when I return.

21 April 2005
When Randy came to pick me up at the airport in Bakersfield, he dropped Querida off at the vet's. She was having blood in her urine again and losing control of her bladder. Fortunately, my plane arrived on time and early enough that we could rush to the vet's to discuss Querida's situation. It turned out better to leave her there overnight while waiting for test results.

Which meant I had to return to B'fld today. I took Tribble with me. He continues throwing up, feels thinner to me, and clearly doesn't feel well. When I got home last night, all the cats except Tribble greeted me with enthusiasm. Tribble didn't feel well enough to come out of his sleeping box at all.

They're both home tonight with anti-biotics. Tribble had lots of blood and white blood cells in his urine and has lost an entire pound since Feb. The vet has had to do an expensive culture on Querida to determine the exact nature of her infection so it can be treated more effectively. She could possibly be in the early stages of renal failure, but we can't be sure yet.

Given how closely Tribble's illness matches his mother's, we're going to be giving him the same treatment she gets. The interim anti-biotics are to give them some immediate relief since the results of the culture won't be available until next Tues.

They're both quite old, so these problems aren't unexpected, and they're such good, sweet moggies, I can hardly begrudge the vet bills to keep them well for as long as possible.

24 April 2005
Puck knocked over my coat rack for the zillionth time. The upper turning rack is so badly messed up that I've had to wire it together. The Lord of Mischief has also been using every chance he gets to sprint outside. Yesterday, I let him roll in the dust for a while and eat a bunch of grass, knowing full well I'd have to clean up the grass later when he threw it up. Which I did.

Ariel is being highly skittish around me after I was gone for 8 days. I was afraid that might happen.

Owl is doing well, though it doesn't feel to me that he's added any weight yet. I was really hoping to see results by now. He's lost all interest in eating his special food, so that's causing a problem, too.

Tribble and Querida are on Baytril during this interim period while I wait for the results of the lab culture to determine the best course of treatment for them. They seem to responding well. Tribble is more active than he has been for some time.

Querida came home with an infection in her left eye that no one but me noticed. Luckily I have ointment on hand and her eye is improving.

I've put the SSPO pages back up in a modified form that I hope will keep the bandwidth problem under control. We will see.

26 April 2005
It was Owl's turn to be hauled off to the vet, yet again. I saw a couple of splashes of blood on the side of his catbox which sent my concern level soaring. I was also right in being concerned about my sense that he hadn't put on any weight. In fact, he's lost a few more ounces in the past month.

The vet brought it down to three possibilities that seem the most likely at this point: a) intestinal inflammation of some kind; b) hyperthyroid; or c) cancer. He thinks Owl is rather young for it to be cancer. We did another blood test to check the thyroid. I won't have the results until tomorrow. Once the vet sees that, he will either have me start with a thyroid treatment or an anti-inflammation treatment.

We didn't even try to address why Owl is continuing to pull out so much of his hair. The anti-histamines don't seem to be doing anything for him.

Speaking of lovely old Owl, he just crawled into my lap for the third time tonight, blessing me with his steady-state purr. And this is even afer I subjected him to Vet Torture which he really, really hates.

Meanwhile, we had the results on Querida's urine culture. Totally negative! Not a damned bit of bacteria grew in it. Which means she has some *other* problem. He thinks a kidney cystitis problem that may be exacerbated by the thyroid treatment (it's a balancing act between keeping the thyroid under control and the damage it can do to the kidneys in the process). I'm to start a steroid treatment on her, but only after we get her eye infection totally cleared up. I got more eye ointment today, too.

The vet remains worried about Tribble. I told him Tribble's been much bouncier and more his old self on the Baytril, so I'm continuing that until the course is done, then he wants to test Tribble's thyroid levels again. In the past couple of days, I've noticed that Tribble has had moments of being unsteady on his feet. Worry, worry, worry.

I took part in a kitten rescue last night. Around dinner time, my cat-lover neighbor across the street called to say that one of the local little girls found a just-born kitten that had been put into trash bin. It still had the umbilical cord and some afterbirth on it, so we're talking brand-new. My neighbor, knowing how many cats I have, was hoping I might have some kitten formula or bottle-feeder.

Last time I dealt with kittens was when Tribble was born (Querida's second and final litter) and that was nearly 16 years ago, so I couldn't help. I did warn her to keep the kitten very warm. Then I called the cat rescue people who helped me catch and fix Ariel and her sister. They were strongly insistent that the only chance the little one had was to bring it over so they could put it with one of their three nursing queens.

I had several phone calls back and forth with my neighbor to urge her to do that. At first, she seemed set on feeding the kitten herself. But finally she came around and realized a day-old kitten probably wasn't going to make it without a mother-cat. Since it was now around 11 pm and I was the one who knew how to get to the cat haven, I offered to take it.

Randy, who is all heart, wanted to drive so that I could cradle the kitten in my lap. I have one of those bean-bag things that you heat up in the microwave to wrap around your neck. With that heated up and put inside a towel, I had a toasty-warm nest for the kitten.

It was so tiny! Just an itty black peanut of a thing. But he/she/it sure talked a lot, and he was on a determined search for the elusive teat for the whole drive. We got him settled in on a mama cat right away.

I called this morning to see whether he made it through the night. He did, and was scrapping with the rest of the slightly-older kittens to get his share of the milk. If he survives, my neighbor is determined to take him back and plans to call him/her Miracle.

30 April 2005
Drove to B'fld to pick up Owl's medicine this morning. It's a liquid form of Metronidazole. I also have a written prescription for the dry food. I can't afford to buy it right now anyway, but if I get the chance, I'll go up against Petsmart and see if they dare try to prevent me from buying it.

I've had to cut back on the canned food, too. I'm only giving it out in the morning. Last night, Theseus planted himself in front of me and let out a very loud, plaintive, ''WHY?!!!!"

Puck's been the very devil himself about getting out the door. It's become a twisted and dangerous dance I have to do each time I leave, and he still gets past me sometimes. If I have the time, I let him roll in the dust and eat grass, which is mainly what he wants to do.

29 April 2005
I'm so mad I could spit. I'm coming to intensely dislike companies that make prescription cat food. I mean c'mon, prescription cat food!? What a crock. Like what, I'd get hold of the stuff and turn it into crack or something? The whole concept of prescription cat food is absurd.

My vet recommends that I feed this particular dry food to Owl. Owl's thyroid levels weren't indicative enough of hyperthyroid problems to go that route, which means treating for inflammatory bowel syndrome. I need to get to the vet's for a specific medicine for him, but in additional, it would be beneficial to feed Owl this food.

If I buy it at my vet's, it's outrageously expensive. My problem is that I can't just give it to Owl without creating huge headaches for myself, but buying enough for the entire Horde is out of the question. You'd think the damned stuff was made out of gold.

I tried to get a better deal on it at a big petstore chain, Petsmart. Listen to this scam. The maker of the food, Hill's, has made some kind of sweetheart deal with a veterinary chain, Banfield, so that in order to buy the food at Petsmart, I have to take Owl to their vet.

Like hell. It sounds borderline illegal to me. The more I learn about this particular pet food company, the less I like it.

1 May 2005
The first dose of the new medicine for Owl did not go well at all. This could be entirely my fault, as I had given him the anti-histamine a couple of minutes before. When I gave him the liquid med, he foamed at the mouth and threw up. Not a good start.

This morning, I did NOT give the anti-histamine. Owl still foamed a bit, though not as badly, and so far hasn't thrown up.

I let Puck have a few minutes outside this morning with the usual grass-eating and dust-rolling. He complained when I had to bring him inside, poor boy. Then, as usual, he threw up the grass.

Ariel has become more skittish than ever about letting me get close to her, probably because I managed...no, I dared to pet her ever so briefly. "No, no! It is forbidden!"

I've been waiting for Querida's eye infection to clear up before I can start her on the steroids. I thought we might have reached that point, but this morning her eye looked weepy again. If it doesn't clear up in another week, I'll have to consult with the vet about it.

And a big Happy Birthday to Tribble who turns 16 on this May Day! He's the only cat I have whose birthday I know with certainty. However this is Nefreet's honorary approximate birthday, and she is now 13.

A few photos for the day:
Ariel
Ariel Big Eyes
Owl
Owl the Skinny.
Owl
Owl with whiskers askew.

1 May 2005
Owl's doing better taking the medicine. Still a bit of foaming going on, but he's getting over it pretty quickly. However, he knows what it means now when I shake the bottle and he tends to take off for higher ground. But there is no escape! Bwwaaa haaa haaa!

We also took part in another kitten rescue yesterday. Our tremendously nice neighbors across the street, Gordon and Tina, have an ancient cabin on the property they purchased. They plan to mostly tear it down and rebuild it. Gordon came over to get us because he discovered a batch of very young kittens, three of them, in a completely inaccessible crawlspace beneath the house.

I coaxed a couple of them fairly close, but not close enough to grab. They're about 3-4 weeks old, cute little things. Gordon was afraid his Jack Russell Terrier might have killed the mother cat, but we soon saw her hanging around the edge of his yard, waiting for the blasted humans to get lost.

Gordon thinks mama-cat has been subsisting on dog food, so I took over a bowl of good cat food and a bowl of water which we placed under the front porch deck near the access point. In a few weeks, if she doesn't move the kittens somwhere else, I'll set about trying to trap her and them.

Speaking of kitten rescue, the tiny kitten I took to Cause 4 Cats is doing all right. He (or she) had a bad night yesterday, I was told, but is hanging in and quite feisty. Lolette thinks it's older than a newborn, because he's already opened his eyes. He may simply be small for his age. So he may make it yet.

3 May 2005
I gave up on the unfortunate wooden coatrack after Puck's latest assault on it. It's beyond repair. I swapped it out for a metal coatstand that should be less convenient for the Puckster to knock over. We shall see.

I went over to check on mama cat's food and water situation yesterday and today. The ants were getting into the food, so I did away with the large bowl I'd used and replaced it with a small bowl set inside a tray of water to keep the ants out. The food is disappearing at a good pace. I just hope it's actually going to mama cat and not some other scavenger.

5 May 2005
Owl's been spending a lot of time in my lap, being a big old snugglebunny. He talks and talks when Randy comes in to visit, demanding his share of Randy's attention. Quite a change from the shy cat of a few years ago.

I can't tell yet whether the medicine is having any effect. The vet said it would take about a month to see a change. Unfortunately, Owl threw up again right after I gave him the medicine last night.

Ariel had a grand time playing with her favorite toy of the day. I bought a package of lightweight, brightly colored plastic cubes. They're actually baby toys that are supposed to be alphabet blocks, but these light plastic ones are perfect for a cat to bat around. At the moment it's lost, along with any number of practice golf balls, the hollow plastic kind filled with holes. Those are also fantastic cat toys. Dozens of them will show up next time we get around to moving house.

Randy and I did our usual quick walk after lunch, then I went across the street to refresh mama cat's food. Just as I approached the house, I saw her duck inside and finally got a good look at her. I recognized her immediately. She showed up in our yard several times when she was quite young. She's a pretty cat, a dark tortie, meaning she's mostly black with the merest hints of orange here and there on her sides. I refilled the food just as it started to rain and it's been pouring ever since. I'm glad she has food and water in a sheltered spot so she can stay dry.

6 May 2005
Unhappily, Owl threw up this morning before I gave him the medicine. I left a message for the vet but he called while I was gone all day. He wants me to take Owl off the medicine, but he seems to think I have Owl eating only the special diet food, which I simply can't do. I'll have to try and connect with the vet tomorrow to discuss it.

It's raining again and is supposed to get down to about 37 tonight. I worry about mama cat and her babies. I hope they can stay warm enough under that house. I refilled her food this morning. She's eating a good amount of the food, though not quite as much as I would have expected a mama cat to eat.

8 May 2005
The past couple of days when I went to check on mama cat, I took my big flashlight along to look back into the depths of the crawlspace. Unless my eyes are playing tricks on me, it looks like she's in there with them because of the heap of dark fur looks too big to be mere kittens. I saw one of the kittens' little heads move around and look at me, so I can only hope this means they're all doing well.

Here at moggy central, things are much the same. Owl hasn't thrown up again and he doesn't seem to be pulling his fur out, even though I've stopped giving him the anti-histamines. It might be my imagination, since not very much time has passed since I started him on the medicine, but it does seem to me that he might have added a tiny bit of flesh over his backbone. I hope it's not wishful thinking on my part.

Querida, now on a steroid treatment, is eating a lot. The steroids must be pumping up her appetite.

Puck is as happy as he can be about his daily outings. He's such a good boy about staying close to me. It takes a lot to faze him. This morning he was right next to the fence along the road when a guy roared past on a dirt bike. Puck didn't budge an inch, though he did have a WTF look on his face. I've been using my minutes outside with him to do some weeding in the front yard.

He continues to be the Lord of Mischief in the office. He jumped to the top of my CD cabinet, knocked off a cat sculpture, jumped from there to the top of a couple of bookcases on top of which I've piled up dozens of empty boxes for future packing or shipping. He proceeded to plow across this row of boxes to the other end where he jumped into a large amazon.com box, which then toppled off the end of a bookshelf and, luckily, down only a couple of feet to land on top of a wardrobe box. He didn't seem terribly perturbed about that either.

10 May 2005
In today's daily outing, Puck had great fun exploring the olive tree in the front yard while I did yet more weeding. He was awfully good about staying close to me, until he finally jumped onto the fence that borders the road. That earned him a "no" and a return to the office. I'm trying to get through to him that jumping on the fence = return to jail.

The last couple of times I've gone to refill mama cat's food bowl, it's been totally empty. I hope she's getting most of it, and not some other stray moggy. At any rate, there's been nothing left but a couple of crumbles. I managed to get a pretty good look under the crawlspace today. I could see her looking back at me, with little bundles of fur snuggled up against her. It's hard to make out much detail at that distance with only a flashlight, but things seem to be all right.

I was especially worried about them when I woke up this morning, having heard it raining most of the night, to discover that some of that rain had actually turned to snow! Only a small amount, relegated to cold surfaces such as cars or unheated roofs, but still...May 10th and we had snow.

13 May 2005
I suddenly discovered this morning that I barely had enough of Owl's medicine for one dropper-full, which required an unscheduled trip to the vet's in B'fld. While I was in town, I went to Petsmart and bought several small cans of kitten food for future enticement and trapping purposes.

I also went into a large thrift shop and found exactly what I've been wanting, a huge stack of small, but solid porcelain bowls to use as cat food dishes. I got eight very nice bowls for under $4.00. I now have enough bowls so that I can divide a can of cat food into 11 portions, one for each cat in the office. We'll see how it works out.

When I went across the street to feed mama cat, I peered into the hole into the crawlspace and found wide, glowing eyes peering back at me. The entire family was only a couple feet away from me. I could clearly see mama, looking rather worried, and at least two of the kittens, who look quite healty. I may have seen a third kitten, but I'm not sure. I tried to coax the kittens within grabbing range, but they were too cautious for that. In another week or so, I'll get serious about trying to catch them.

I learned today that the teeny-tiny kitten we helped rescue is alive and feisty and doing well. And I believe it's been identified as a he. The neighbor directly across from me, the primary rescuer, is still determined to adopt it, which will give her a total of 7 male cats, if my count is correct.

16 May 2005
Owl's been throwing up a lot the past couple of days, and it appears to be hairball problems. He's pulled out a lot of the fur on his side and back, and apparently he's eating every bit of it. Must dig out the tube of hairball remedy.

I was rather worried about mama cat and kittens yesterday because I could find so sign of them at all. I refilled the food again this morning, and did catch a glimpse of the two kittens. I've already gone to Cause4Cats and borrowed a couple of traps from Lolette. I have cans of kitten food at the ready. I think I'll begin the first attempts at trapping mama and kits this week.

19 May 2005
Bast has struck again. We are so doomed...

Randy built a support structure outside the hole to the crawlspace where mama cat and the kittens have been lurking. That's where one trap went, while the other trap is being reserved to catch mama after catching the kittens. I put kitten food inside and set the trap on Wed. night.

Yesterday morning, I discovered that I had captured a gorgeous young Siamese cat. Beautiful cat! But not what we were going for. There are several Siamese that live at The House That Is The Source Of All Cats, so I drove him over there and let him go.

I decided to put a couple servings of the kitten food right inside the hole to get the kittens used to it. I could clearly see mama cat's face looking back at me one time from quite close by. The food disappeared quickly.

Early this afternoon, I went over to put out more food and check out the situation. As I looked into the hole, I could see the black kitten right there staring back quizzically at me. So I reached in and grabbed him!

I got a stuck with sharp needles and bled a little bit, but the first kitten was in my hands! I hurried home to show Randy my catch. We set up the kitten inside a carrier with kitten food and water.

When I went back, I could see the other kitten, but it was too cagey to let me get my hands on it, so I set up the trap and hoped. No luck. We're rather worried, in fact, because since then we haven't been able to locate any sign at all of mama and the other kitten. I'm very much afraid I could have scared them to another location.

Meanwhile, the black kitten was mewing piteously and Randy's heart had instantly melted into a pile of goo. When I got back, he was feeding the kitten by letting it lick (and bite) the kitten food off the end of his fingers. It ate ravenously, though it doesn't have the hang of drinking water yet.

I think you can see where this is going. We intended to take the kitten to Lolette's where it could join all the other piles of kittens that she has. So much for our intentions. This kitten may only be 5 or 6 weeks old, but he has tons of personality and is already playing with a string and going to sleep in Randy's lap.

Which is why the kitten is still here and, Bast help me, may be staying. I already had an appointment at the vet's tomorrow for Tribble, and I'm sure they won't mind taking a look at the kitten for me, too. He looks perfectly healthy, but we don't want to take chances.

Nefreet's nose is totally out of joint at having the kitten in the house. As I write this, Randy is setting up the large cage we bought originally bought for Ariel. It's going into one of our upstairs rooms where hopefully we won't hear the little guy crying all night and to keep him away from Nefreet.

Doomed, doomed, doomed...

21 May 2005
Randy and I can declare ourselves to be Master Kitten Rustlers.

But first, to back up to yesterday morning when Puck mauled me. I had settled into a routine with him where I let him outside when I go out to dump the water from their water dish. Then I spend about ten minutes or so weeding in the yard so that Puck can have some outdoor time.

Prior to this, he was an excellent boy. He stayed nearby in the yard, would come over to check in with me and all was well. He was being quite good, as usual, until he decided to jump onto one particular stretch of the fence. The house on the other side of that fence has a dog that is a cat-killer. I hurried over to pluck him off the fence. He ran down the fence and I had to go after him. When I picked him up, he went totally medieval on me. It was a Jekyll and Hyde moment and he had turned into Mr. Hyde. He attacked me and left a large, painful gouge in my collarbone. When I set him down, he turned on me like a feral cat, ready to attack again. I was glad I'd been wearing my garden gloves.

I gently used my feet to herd him toward the front door area of the porch. I gave him a couple of minutes to calm down, treated him normally, spoke in a soothing voice, then picked him up again and took him inside. I was deeply pissed off with him. In the three years I've had Puck, he's NEVER done anything like this. I would have trusted him absolutely not to hurt me...until yesterday.

The instant I put him inside, he jumped on Kate and got her into a death-hold and I had to break that up. I guess he simply didn't want to go inside, which I can understand since he was an outdoor boy before we moved here. Last night, he crawled in my lap and purred away like nothing had happened. But today, I did not let him have his outdoor time. I'm still miffed with his behavior.

On to the kitten news, lots of it. Randy has been bonding with the black kitten. This is true love on both sides. We set up the large cage in our upstairs spare room, with the carrier inside as a cave and the lid to large plastic container serving as a cat box. We kept giving him food and he polished it off each time. Let me tell you, this kitten can EAT. He's also good about cleaning himself.

I put him in the cat box, took his paw in my hand and showed him how to scratch at the cat litter. He thought about it and promptly took his first little kitten poop, followed later by a pee. He's got the cat box down just like that. And I had a fecal sample to take to the vet, which was handy.

He loves to play "Attack the Spider" with Randy's fingers, and he loves to play with the plastic golf ball. He's at that age where he hasn't quite got the whole four-legs-and-balance thing worked out, but he's getting there. He's highly adventurous and crawls all over Randy on the floor, though he's understandably fearful of us when we stand as giants. He's also not as enchanted with me. After all, I'm the hand that nabbed him, then took him to the vet. But Randy said that at one point he had the kitten in his lap upside down and it purred for him!

I took Tribble to the vet in the afternoon for a follow-up appointment to have his thyroid levels checked. Something's still not right, but it looks like it'll be Tues. before I get the results for that and the blood tests. Tribble hasn't lost weight, but he hasn't gained any either, and he could use another pound or so on him.
On the drive there (takes about 45 minutes), I got the double chorus from Tribble and the kitten. The kitten didn't spend the trip cowering in the back of the carrier. No, he got right up to the grill and expressed his displeasure. Tribble took tenor and the kitten sang soprano. It's hard to believe so much noise could come from such a tiny mouth.

The vet agreed with me that the kitten is about 6-7 weeks in age. The kitten is healthy and in great shape. Good lungs, good heart, eyes clear, ears clean, no worms or parasites. In a couple of weeks, he'll go back for his shots and some tests, but for now, everything looks excellent.

I brought back some kitten formula and have been mixing the canned kitten food into a gruel with the formula. That's what we used to bait the trap early in the evening. When we checked around 11 pm, we had caught one of our boy's sisters, a pretty tortie girl.

We reset the trap and when I checked it first thing this morning, we had the third kitten, another tortie girl. That's when I had the biggest shock of this whole event -- there was a fourth kitten! It was sticking its head out of the crawlspace hole, distressed about losing the last of its siblings.

Neither one of us suspected there were four of them. This was another black kitten. So I took the second tortie home, made up another batch of food and went back to reset the trap because I could tell it wouldn't take long to catch this last one.

I had also caught a cat in the second trap that's under the porch for mama cat. This was young adult black cat and he was quite wild. He'd bashed his head up a little from fighting the trap, so I simply let him go right there. He was off in a flash.

When I approached the house, the fourth kitten was already sitting outside the hole on the platform Randy built for the trap and he was mewing away. He wouldn't let me get close, of course. I set up the trap and returned home for breakfast. Randy made us a hearty breakfast because Kitten Rustling is hungry work.

By the time we'd finished, I checked the trap and sure enough, we had our fourth kitten. There's a totally adorable pile of kittens in the cage. It's no wonder we thought there were only three, since we have two sets of twins. Actually, the other black kitten has slightly different fur and doesn't have the small splotches of white on the chest and belly that the first one has, but when looking into a dark crawlspace, I can see how we would think we were seeing the same kitten.

We're still trying and hoping to catch mama cat. I would ideally like to have mama to go with her other three kittens to the Cause4Cats haven. Fortunately, the kittens are doing just fine with the canned food and formula, so they won't suffer terribly much if I can't catch mama. Though frankly, we don't want to go through this again if she's out there churning out one litter after another. She's been a good mama cat, I have to say, as her kittens are healthy, clean and smart.

Randy and I began discussing what to name the black kitten that we're keeping. He's an adventure boy, so we wanted an adventurer's name. He's cheeky and smart and he loves to eat.

And so he has been dubbed...Pippin.

Yeah, we're LOTR geeks (especially me). So sue me. ;)

Here's Pippin on his first night with us.

Pippin

22 May 2005
No luck catching mama cat so far. We'll keep trying for a while, but I'm afraid she may have given up coming back once she couldn't find the kittens there. Our neighbor arrived this afternoon to do more work on his house and he was glad to hear we'd nabbed the kits, as he doesn't want stray cats around his place, especially under the cabin.

I handled the other three kittens today to get them accustomed to humans. I've nicknamed one of the torties Spitfire, because that's what she is -- a little spitfire full of fire and brimstone. When I first found her in the trap, she hissed and spat and growled. She hasn't mellowed a bit since then.

The other tortie is the boldest of the three, not counting Pippin. She has a crook at the end of her tail. The other black kitten is the most timid and passive. I think it will be a sweet cat, with softer, fluffier fur than Pippin's. I haven't quite determined its sex yet. It's hard to sex a black kitten at this age. Even the vet was having trouble when I took in Pippin.

We rearranged the cage set-up last night. I put in a regular catbox. Randy was worried the sides were too high for them, but they had no trouble. I took out the enclosed carrier because they were hiding too much instead of adjusting to the outside world. I put in the bottom half of a smaller carrier padded with towels. This gives them high sides to huddle against, but they're still open to the world.

Pippin remains the most adventurous. He comes bounding out of the cage (falls on his chin half the time) and is ready to play with the string, the ball, the peacock feather, or the giant's fingers.

Pippin has a webpage now. More cute kitten pics, including a couple of pics of his siblings.

http://www.christymarx.com/moggy/pippin.htm

23 May 2005
There's nothing like food to tame a wild kitten. We're using two small bowls so that they don't have to fight over it so much, and we gave them food before we went to bed. But this morning there were four eager little furballs lined up at the door of the cage demanding food. In the face of hunger, reticence disappears. By Bast, they can move through some food!

We had a couple of long play sessions with them today and they've really started to adjust to us. They're coming out of the cage and bouncing around all over the place. We laugh ourselves silly watching them race around, bounce off objects, do the Sideways Arching Killer Dance, leap on one another, run-run-run, bound over the five spokes on the base of an office chair, then demand more food, run around some more and have nap attacks.

They're much better about letting us touch them and pick them up. Spitfire hasn't quite run out of spitty hisses yet, but is deploying them less often.

During the warm part of the afternoon when the kittens were out and about, we did some rear end clean-up. Pippin and his brother were the worst, having caked crap on their butts and feet. Randy had to simply clip some of it from the underside of their tails.

When I checked the trap last night, we'd caught yet another cat, but not mama. I'm losing hope of catching her. The one I found last night was young, maybe 10 months old, and quite pretty, a fluffy white and pale orange tabby. It seemed like a rather nice cat, too, though it certainly took off fast when I opened the cage.

This morning, the cage had been triggered, but there was no cat inside. If mama is coming around, she's being terribly cunning.

26 May 2005
Taking care of kittens is highly time-consuming. We were hoping we could leave the cage open sometimes and let them romp freely in the spare room, but we discovered that they won't bother to return to the cage when they need the litter box. Either too much effort, or their little furry brains forget about the litter box as soon as they leave the cage. We can't afford those kinds of accidents on the carpet, so we have to watch them every minute they're out and about.

I brought up an old carpeted scratching post that my moggies have been ignoring for years. The darker tortie with the bent tail, whom I've nicknamed Opal, was the first to discover it and she went crazy over it. Up the post, perch on top, down the post either head-first, sideways or ass over ears, then zoom back up, perch, down. Up, down, up, down. The others haven't quite gotten into as much as she has yet.

Nefreet is quite unhappy about the whole thing. She stays away, or on rare occasion takes a glimpse, hisses, and goes back to sulking downstairs.

25 May 2005
I caught a lovely young tabby the other night, but there's been no sign of mama cat whatsoever. I doubt I'll try for much longer. Our neighbor is planning to thoroughly block off access to the underneath of his cabin to keep any cat from getting under there again. Sounds like a good idea to me.

The kittens are doing great. I had to go out and buy ten thousand cands of kitten food yesterday because they're going through it so fast. I bought some dry kitten food, too, but so far they have no interest in it.

We have a portion of the room blocked off so we can let them out of the cage a number of times during the day to have their wild romps. I was able to pet Spitfire today without being hissed at, though she is definitely the kitten who is least interested in humans. Pippin loves his humans, and the other little tortie girl gave me her first purr today. I've decided the other black kitten will grow up to be much like Tribble, a big fluffy love-muffin. He's so gentle, almost placid, but wildly playful at the same time. He's going to have a gorgeous big ruff on his chest where is one small patch of white is.

Meanwhile, I feel that I've lost ground with Ariel. I haven't been giving her the special attention I need to because of the kitten distraction. I need to play with her a lot more often. She's more untouchable then ever.

The blood work-up on Tribble came back excellent. Everything is just right, including his thyroid levels. According to these results, he's in great shape.

Knobby, however, is throwing up a lot and nearly every day. He's as chunky as ever and doesn't seem to have anything obviously wrong with him...except all the throwing up.

27 May 2005
It will be hard to see these kittens go. Even though we've only had them less than a week, I already have emotional attachments to all of them. Little Spitfire has mellowed out, no longer hisses, and has an absolutely terrific purr machine that she now turns on quite easily. I've changed her nickname to Sapphire. Opal is also quick to purr.

However, we can't keep them all. I have the contact info for the Human Officer for the local no-kill shelter who is organizing Kitten Prisoner Exchanges...ummm, I mean, is arranging adoptions, so I will get in touch with her this weekend.

Meanwhile, here are more cute kitten photos.
Pippin & Opal
Pippin at about 8 weeks old, with sister Opal in the background.
Opal
A closer look at the lovely Opal. She's the one with a 90 degree kink at the end of her tail.
Opal, Sapphire & Tribble Jr.
Opal claims the top, sister Sapphire at the base, Tribble Jr. moving in.
Opal, Sapphire & Tribble Jr.
Tribble Jr. claims the top. Opal and Sapphire plot revenge below.
Also, ahem, if anyone reading this would seriously consider adopting, please let me know. I'll deliver to anyone within a 60 mile radius, meaning from Bakersfield to L.A. Pass the word around.

Meanwhile, I have pretty much given up on trying to catch mama cat.

Puck tried to eat a button off my shirt. Weird moggy.

28 May 2005
Poor little Tribble Jr. has severe diarrhea. He's active and happy and seems healthy in every other respect, but this is pretty bad. I called the vet's office this morning to see what I could do for him. They reminded me of something I've known about for years, but keep forgetting it -- pumpkin.

We went to two supermarkets with no luck. We could NOT find a can of plain pumpkin. We had to settle for the closest equivalent, so we bought some jars of squash baby food which we mixed with the canned kitten food. To our surprise, they loved it.

Another unpleasant problem, related to the first problem, is that while chicken feed works great as cat litter, it's not working so well as kitten litter. For whatever reason, the two boys end up with a disgusting mess on their rear ends made up of crap and chicken feed that has hardened into cement. We had to spend quite a long time laboring over Pippin's unfortunate rear end last night to get him clean. The two girls, however, keep themselves immaculate.

We decided to buy a different cat litter in hopes of avoiding the problem for the time being. There's a type of litter made of pellets of recycled newspaper. We're giving that a try. The kittens seem rather confused by it at the moment, so let's hope for the best.

They were racing around the room this afternoon when Pippin zoomed at 100 mph from north to south, while one of the torties was racing equally fast across the room from east to west, and they had a major collision at the intersection. Pippin was knocked for a loop and had to hide in a corner for a couple of minutes until he got his wits back.

29 May 2005
Alas, our kitten butt cleaning attempts weren't adequate. We finally had to do it the traumatic way and dunk the little boys' behinds in a sink of warm water. They were only mildly traumatized, but it worked far better than our other methods. And they recovered quickly enough.

As usual, the girls needed no cleaning up at all.

Black Tribble aka Tribble Jr. has morphed to yet another nickname and I've taken to calling him Orpheus. I'm sure his new owner will come up with something far better, but it will do for now.

Lolette from Cause 4 Cats came by today, met the kittens and the rest of the Horde, then we started work on her website. I'm making a fairly simple website up for her. Tribble took up residence in her lap where he received an expert massage. Lolette figures she has about 120 cats at her place now. She and her husband support this work entirely on their own, or from donations. We hit some technical snags, so the site isn't actually up yet. It will be plain vanilla as far as design goes, but at least she'll have something.

Puck came to the very edge of disaster today. I didn't have time to let him out in the morning, so I relented and let him outside late in the afternoon after Randy had finished some yard work and wanted me to come outside for a look. Puck caught sight of Salem and chased him, after which Puck was fully inflated and hepped up. We were afraid he'd run right out of the yard, so Randy went to pick him up.

Just as he did to me a week or so ago, Puck went nuts on Randy and sanks his claws deep into Randy's face just above the lip. I had to rush over and extricate Puck's claws as Randy stood very, very still to keep Puck from becoming more berserk. He not only got Randy's face in about three places, he gave Randy lots of punctures and scratches on the hands and arms. Randy was understandably upset with Puck, to put it mildly. I think Puck is lucky he still has a home.

One thing's for sure -- Puck has lost his outdoor privileges... permanently.

30 May 2005
Oops. It looks like Orpheus is actually an Orphine. Or would that be Orphette? At any rate, a new name is in order. It shows the dangers of making assumptions. Since the two torties were girls, we've been assuming both black kittens were boys. It's hard enough to get the sex of a young kitten, let alone one that is as fluffy as this one.

Now that we've soaked her butt clean and taken another close look, we've discovered our error. It appears that Pippin is the sole male of the litter.

Must now think about a new placeholder name for the fluffy black girl.

31 May 2005
Those kittens sound like a herd of mini-elephants when they race around. One kitten was lying in the wrong place and got run over by the other three going at top speed. It's endlessly hysterical.

The fluffy black girl has been dubbed JETTA, after a character in my animation series, Jem and the Holograms. Jetta had typical 1980s Big Hair and it was black, hence the name. She played sax in the bad girl rock group, The Misfits.

Opal climbs like a monkey. She climbed all the way to the top of a set of 6 foot wicker shelves. Of course, then she had no way to get down again, so we had to rescue her.

I do believe Owl has put on a little bit of weight! He will have to endure the hated medicine a while longer.

2 June 2005
The kittens are getting so big and so active that it's become quite a challenge to keep them confined to the top floor. Pippin especially is determined to race down the stairs every chance he gets, and Jetta is right behind him. We spend a fair bit of energy chasing them down the stairs and hauling them back up.

They know the "food" call and go crazy when one of us comes up the stairs carrying the bowls of food. They swirl around our feet in a frenzy, forcing us to be careful about every step we place.

Every once in a while, Nefreet comes up the stairs, finds that the second floor is still INFESTED with ENEMY KITTENS, hisses a bit and finally gives up on coming any further. She used to spend a lot of time with Randy in his office, but now she hardly goes up there, even when the EVIL KITTENS are locked away.

I'm having trouble getting Ariel to come and eat by me these days. That's bad, as that was the one way I had to be close to her for a few brief moments. I'm afraid she may remain mostly feral and untouchable for the rest of her life, if this is any indication.

I picked up new liquid medicine for Owl yesterday and got it in a chicken flavor this time, hoping it would make it more palatable. Nope. He foamed just as much with this flavor as the other. Oh, well. It was worth a try.

I have most of the website for cause4cats.com up and running. Feel free to check it out and send comments.

3 June 2005
I swear, the three girl kittens were born with monkey genes. I can't believe how they can climb! I was trying to clean their litter box which I do by opening a door on the far side of their cage. The girls, especially Jetta, kept climbing onto the top of the wire cage, seemingly obsessed with what I was doing. Once there, though, they don't have much to support them and their little feet keep falling through the spaces. It took me forever to get the box cleaned because I continually had to pluck off rampant kittens and deposit them on the floor.

And the wild chases down the stairs continue. Yesterday, Jetta made it all the way down the stairs and into the living room before we nabbed her! Luckily (for her), Nefreet was asleep in the bedroom at the time. I don't know for sure that Nefreet would do anything more than hiss, but she's an unpredictable cat, to say the least.

I'm having to keep a careful eye on Tosca. She's always been one of my healthiest cats. In fact, I don't remember ever taking her to the vet. But in the past week I've seen some blood on her stool and she's thrown up (once that I know of). Otherwise, she looks and behaves like a totally healthy, not to mention very fat, cat.

5 June 2005
We let the kittens out at least four times a day so they can romp and run around. The general routine is: get up, feed kittens, have breakfast, play with kittens, do email until lunchtime, feed kittens, have lunch, maybe get in a walk, play with kitten, get some work done in what's left of the afternoon, play with kittens, feed kittens, have dinner, get some more work or email done, play with kittens, give Nefreet some attention and/or watch a bit of tv, go to bed.

There's a real shortage of "getting work done" in there.

I've connected with a terrific lady up here who is the animal humane office for a new no-kill shelter that is being built. She does tons of kitten and cat rescue, TNR (trap, neuter, release), and adoption. She's meticulous about screening people to adopt kittens, so I'm going to have her adopt out our three. She confirmed that there really is a kitten shortage in the Bay area, so that's where they'll be going.

To help out, I've created webpages for the other three kittens for potentional adopters. Warning: massive cuteness found herein.

Sapphire
Opal
Jetta

If possible, we're taking Sapphire to the vet's tomorrow. She jumps into the catbox about every five minutes, sits and sits, but isn't able to produce anything. I don't know whether she's constipated (seems unlikely, given the squash in their food) or trying to pee. Either way, it needs to be taken care of. In every other respect, she's doing great -- racing around, playing vigorously, eating and drinking water, so it doesn't seem like it could be too serious.

6 June 2005
I took Sapphire to the vet and took Owl along for the sole purpose of having him weighed.

YES!!! Owl has gained a whole pound! He's up to 11.3 lbs. I would ideally like to see him stabilized around 14 lbs., I think. Which means he must endure the Horrible Meds for a while longer.

He's so damned smart, this boy. For the past three mornings when I went to give him the meds, he happened to be using the catbox. So of course I waited. This morning, he went to the catbox again. I set his meds aside and took care of the other cats. Then I realized -- he wasn't using the catbox. He had hunkered down and was hiding in it! He'd already figured out it was a way to avoid the meds.

Naturally, as soon as I figured this out, I went straight over and gave him the meds in the catbox. We'll see whether he tries that again tomorrow.

He's happily purring away in my lap right now.

Sapphire was an excellent girl, given that it was a day of stressful "firsts". Her first car trip, her first trip to the vet, the first time having a thermometer shoved up her behind, the first time having medicine put down her throat, etc. She took it all very well.

During the first 30 miles of the trip there, she meeped piteously, then she really let go and developed a full Voice. Yow! For the last 12 miles, she settled down more quietly, but she sure wasn't shy. She was right up there at the gate of the carrier, demanding an explanation.

Anyway, the vet commented on how healthy she is and what nice shape she's in. He figures it's a urinary tract infection, which I figured, too. She has to take that hot pink liquid Amoxicillin for the next two weeks.

I also went to Petsmart and bought cat food to last through the Apocalypse, and another type of cat litter to try on the kittens. This type is also made of recycled paper, but is in small granules and is supposed to clump. I once again lucked into a rep for the cat food company when I had my cart piled high with their products, and she gave me a $3.00 coupon to use. Every little bit helps.

8 June 2005
About that paper granule cat litter? It sucks. We gave up on it almost immediately. This brand was called PaPurr. The kittens tracked it everywhere and it's so lightweight it would cling to them by static electricity. It doesn't clump worth a damn. Worse yet, it was perfumed. Heavily perfumed. I can barely stand to be in the same room with it. I'm mixing what's left over with chicken feed in the big cat boxes in my office where the effect is at least diluted.

The kittens have a new toy -- a long piece of brown ribbon that is somewhat elastic. It's the Brown Snake. Sapphire spent at least five whole minutes whapping the snake non-stop. WHAPWHAPWHAP WHAPWHAPWHAPWHAPWHAP, etc. They'll have tug-of-war with it and because it stretches, when one lets go, it creates a satisfying snap-back.

Speaking of Saffy, she's being very good about taking her medicine and is improving already.

I got sucked into another potential kitten rescue yesterday. I was talking to Patrice about organizing the adoptions for this batch of kittens and she mentioned that a young woman had called her about some kittens that lost their mother and don't have anyone to keep them. Patrice lives about 15 miles or so outside of town, while I was barely half a mile from the location.

That's how I ended up at this old cabin checking out three tabby kittens, about 8 weeks old. Their mother disappeared about 2 weeks ago. he young woman is looking after them the best she can (without money), but the young heavy-metal slacker dude who lives in the cabin is being shipped off to Europe so his father can totally renovate the place, which means the kittens have to go somewhere and the girl can't take them.

The kittens were in better condition than I expected. Rather on the small side, but not malnourished. They generally look healthy and clean, and seemed to have plenty of energy. I took a can of kitten food with me, which they chowed down with gusto.

What they needed most was cat litter, which I also brought with me. They'd been given a box with a bit of yard dirt tossed in it and they didn't like it. We introduced them to the new kitty litter and one of them used it immediately.

They need to be relocated with several days. I have to check with Patrice on when or how she could take them in for adoption. I do NOT want to become known as a "kitten rescue" person. Not that I wouldn't like doing it, but I can't afford it in either money or time. If I brought them here, I'd be putting my own cats at risk, in the event they do have some kind of disease that isn't obvious.

Meanwhile, back with the current Wild Pack of Kittens, Pippin has taken to charging down the stairs and boldly exploring the first floor. Today, he came nose to nose with Nefreet. Randy had to describe it to me because when he's downstairs herding Pippin, I have to be upstairs herding the girls.

Nefreet sniffed Pippin, then did her usual growl & hiss routine. Pippin arched up, did the sideways gonna-get-you dance, then made a bluff charge at her. Nefreet fled to the bedroom. But Pippin isn't used to the slippery linoleum floor and Randy said his feet went out from under him like Bambi on ice.

Not that this has slowed him down one jot, of course.

The girls continue to climb like fiends. They're wreaking dreadful havoc on a couple of the plants we have on the wicker shelves on the upstairs landing. Unfortunately, one is a nephthitis plant which is toxic for them to eat, so we had to trim it back.

The wicker shelves are taking a beating, too, as kittens pry off bits and pieces of it with their wicked little teeth.

9 June 2005
There are times when Randy and I are sitting downstairs and the kittens are upstairs in their cage, and it sounds like they're TEARING DOWN THE HOUSE. It's amazing that such cute little furry things can sound like a demolition crew.

Owl tried his hiding-in-the-cat-box trick again this morning. And once again, it didn't work.

11 June 2005
It looks like I'll be involved in an additional kitten rescue after all. The three little tabbies I took a look at last week have to be removed from the house they're in which is going to be renovated.

The young woman who has been taking care of them has fallen in love with one and is keeping it. She also, to my surprise and delight, did as I recommended and bought them canned kitten food.

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to Lolette's to borrow a cage, then will round up the two kittens that need to be adopted and set them up in our spare laundry room. This house actually has two laundry rooms, only one of which has machines in it. The other one we've been using for storage. That one at least has a window to let in some air and light. It's not an ideal space to keep kittens in, but it will have to do. I won't risk mixing these kittens with my other ones or exposing them to all the cats.

Next Friday, Patrice (the organizer of this madness) will take these 2 kittens, and a few other batches that she and other people have, to an adoption and rescue place in Long Beach called Noah's Bark.

I also need to borrow a trap. We have a long-haired orange and white stray that has attached itself to our yard. It's time for him/her to be neutered, at the very least.

12 June 2005
I went to Lolette's and got the cage as planned. I also borrowed a trap. When I arrived at the house with the other kittens, I encountered a small horde of young twenty-somethings that I would have to describe as Goths with perhaps a touch of Heavy Metal thrown in. Or perhaps there's a metallic branch of Goth. At any rate, it was delightful to see a pack of non-conformists in this little town.

There turned out to be four kittens: one black, and three dark tabbies. One of the Goth couples has claimed the black one (of course), whom they've named Anakin. {g} The young woman has claimed one of the tabbies. They agreed to let me take all four because I've arranged to get them dewormed and vaccinated at no cost. Then I'll bring the two back that are claimed and the other two will go to Noah's Bark.

As I walked up, I heard myself designated as "the cat lady". Yes, I've fallen over the edge and into the abyss. I'm officially a Cat Lady.

Randy helped me clean out the space in the second laundry room and get the cage set up. He insisted that I give the kittens one of his old, moth-eaten, holey wool sweaters so they can cuddle in it at night. He's worried they'll get cold. Actually, the room is pretty well insulated and feels as though it will stay comfy. And it's shaded during the day, which helps keep it from getting too hot.

In the afternoon, Lolette came by and we vaccinated the upstairs kittens, but she was out of the right shots for the smaller kittens, so she will have to do that on Tues. when she gets more.

The deworming should, theoretically, happen tomorrow.

Meanwhile, all the neighbors' cats from across the street have taken up residence in our yard, including their orange tabby, Nugget, and another black cat, Gizmo, who were supposed to be indoor cats. I went over tonight to inquire and make sure they were their cats and not someone else's lost cats. I quickly discovered the reason for the shift in location. My young neighbors' have brought home two 7 week old Great Dane puppies. They're sweet and beautiful creatures, but I have to wonder what these kids are thinking.

They already have five cats. They've committed to adopting two kittens from Lolette. Now they have two GREAT DANE puppies. I've lost count of the times I've heard this couple screaming at one another about money problems. I can only shake my head and wonder.

We gave the upstairs kitten a new toy: a wire ball with a plastic cube inside. They love it. They're dying to get at the cube inside, but can't. Sapphire keeps picking it up and trying to make off with it.

And what of the rest of the Moggy Horde? They're doing well. Owl is in my lap interfering with my typing, as he loves to do. I've had to cut big chunks of concrete-hard, matted fur off Theseus. I have never seen such tough, dense fur. Sly seems to be feeling his age. Querida definitely does and she sleeps most of the time. I keep doing my best to lure Ariel to come and eat the Good Food near me, but it isn't easy. Tosca and Diva have gotten fat. Kate and Knobby remain skittish. Tribble remains loveable. Puck has become a hefty boy and is still dying to get outside.

And Nefreet remains bent out of shape over the Evil Kittens. She's sulking up a storm. Especially after Pippin charged down the stairs and went bounding after her. He's not terribly intimidated.

13 June 2005
My other person couldn't make it to do the deworming. I had to go to the local feed store to get more kitten food anyway, so I picked up the deworming medicine and am doing it myself. It's a gel, so I put a drop on my finger then put it along the top of their palates. The small kittens took it without a fuss. The upstairs kittens went "EWWWW! YUCKY!!!" I have to do that for another 2 days. They'll love that.

The young woman called about when I would return the kittens. I explained about waiting for the right vaccine. They're going to wait until Wed. It turns out she wants to adopt two of the tabbies. That means that there will be one poor lonely little tabby kitten here from Wed. to Thurs. when he'll be taken to Noah's Bark. Randy wants to bring the cage upstairs to his office for that one period of time, so the poor thing won't be out there alone. He's such a lovely, empathic person.

Here's what the little cuties look like.
kittens

16 June 2005
I've been too busy to keep up on the details, but in short, here's where things stand.

The fluffy orange and white cat has firmly moved into the yard, and sits right under the porch steps waiting for me. Then he pops his head up to let me know he would like some food and I feed him. I finally got a good look at his face today. He has one bright blue eye and one golden eye. Very striking! Tonight I'll set the trap and see if I can catch him. Then he goes in to be neutered and probably just released again, unless Lolette wants to take him in (which I doubt, given how overburdened she is already).

The upstairs kittens are getting bigger by the minute, full of life and energy and more adorable than ever, but I MUST find good homes for Jetta and Sapphire, and maybe Opal. We're vascillating about Opal.

The small kittens got their shots, though the whole process was fraught with problems and we were up until 1 am as a result. Today, the three that were spoken for were returned to those people.

The fourth is a very tiny tabby female, very sweet (seen in the earlier entry below). She went with Lolette last night who took her to the vet today to have her tested for infectious diseases. It turns out those kittens are actually much younger than I was told -- only about 5, maybe 6 weeks! I had wondered about that, since they were so small. It's a miracle they survived, being given the food they were before I came along.

The little girl was too tiny to be tested and now her situation is in limbo. I don't want to keep a poor, lone kitten out in that side room, but I won't put her with the other kittens in case she turns out to have something. That means it's equally questionable to bring her into my office. That leaves us with nowhere to put her.

Lolette and another rescuer are trying to find a foster home for her. Randy and I have debated it long and hard. If they can't find a place for her, I may bring her in the office anyway. The vet thought she looked fine and healthy. Still...it remains a risk.

And it's all taking way, way too much time that I can't afford given my deadlines (not to mention the extra expense). We'll have to be firm and not do any more kitten rescues for the forseeable future, I'm afraid.

18 June 2005
Lots happening in the land of the fluffies.

We went to Lolette's and got Little Orphan Annie, the tiny tabby girl, on Thurs. and brought here. I cleared off the top of the oddly-shaped desk that forms the structure of the Cave and I set up a large pet cage on top of it, so that it's a good distance off the ground. I barricaded it with flattened cardboard boxes and other objects to keep the cats from being able to come into direct contact with her and vice versa.

She's set up with a slanted scratching board, a bed, a ball, feather and catnip mouse. She plays with them, but that's not what she wants. She wants love and attention. Lots of love and attention. She is the sweetest, most affectionate little beastie I've ever seen. The minute Randy or I touch her, she purrs. She keeps purring when we hold her, she purrs while she perches on our shoulders, she purrs while she's chasing the toys. Basically, she's a non-stop purr engine.

She can easily see me at my desk. She will cry and cry, then climb to the top of the cage and cry some more. I try to give her cuddle time frequently, but I still need to get work done. It isn't easy.

I'm mixing her canned food with some formula, now that I know how young she is. She hasn't told me her name yet. At the moment, she's playing with her catnip mouse and wreaking havoc in the cage.

Pippin and Opal have become regular visitors to the downstairs floor. They race down the stairs and bound up to Nefreet, who greets them with her usual hiss and snarl. They arch up and dance sideways at her. She is not impressed. She usually retires to the bedroom in a state of High Annoyance.

This weekend, Sapphire and Jetta have gone off to an Adoption Fair in Sherman Oaks. Patrice, the feline rescue organizer, picked them up this morning. She's hauling a dozen or so kittens down for today and tomorrow. I was a little sad to see Saffy go, but I hope they're both adopted and find good homes. At least I know Patrice and her people have strict standards, including requiring adopters to put down money and sign agreements about treatment of the cats or kittens they adopt.

Kate has lost weight, I notice. She was always a blimp. Now I can see indentations in her flanks. She's at a healthy weight, so I hope it's due to being given a mix of regular and "lite" food rather than something being wrong.

But I may have to take Querida back to the vet. I watched her in the cat box and she was making grunting noises as she tried to settle in. Then she strained and strained and produced nothing. Hmmm...I should try some squash on her first, but I'm out of it. Blast!

I go out of my way to keep plastic bags out of Owl's reach, but somehow he found one. He threw up a nice chunk of plastic bag this morning. However, the vet said I can take him off the Horrible Meds for now. I'll have to watch him carefully to see whether he keeps on the weight or starts to lose it again.

The fluffy orange and white cat with the two-colored eyes has settled into a routine of showing up for food. Trapping time approacheth.

19 June 2005
Well, damn. The adoption event didn't go well, probably because everyone involved forgot to take into account that it's Father's Day weekend. People aren't generally out looking for a kitten for dad's present. Consequently, Sapphire and Jetta are back, but not in the house. I've set them up in the Cave. I now have a two-story cat house -- Saffy and Jetta on the ground floor and unnamed tabby-girl in the penthouse above them.

I'm not bringing them back into the house because we simply can't have that many inside. Randy's allergies are steadily getting worse. Pippin and Opal have been calmer and more controlled without the other two siblings around. They bop downstairs at will and love to help themselves to Nefreet's dry food. They definitely prefer it over their dry kitten food.

The rest of The Horde is coming around to check out the new additions. Saffy is doing a bit of defensive growling. I hate to keep them confined, but it's the best solution in a bad situation. I really shouldn't have all these kittens in the first place. Sigh...

Patrice is going to work on getting them adopted in the Bay area. Meanwhile, if anyone reading this blog is in the L.A. area and is interested in one of my darlings, let me know!

20 June 2005
The kittens aren't happy about being locked in the Cave. Sapphire figured out how to climb up the gate, push against the bungie cord and squeeze out the top. I had to rearrange the bungie cord to make this no longer possible. All she wants to do is get out and explore. Jetta's not quite so brave.

They all need attention. Lots of attention. And I don't have enough hours in the day.

When Saffy was out briefly, she met up with Owl. I swear, Owl had the most hysterical WTF expression on his face. I think she was the first kitten he's ever seen in his entire life. "What IS this thing?"

Pippin loves his practice golf ball. He's learned to carry it around in his mouth and he's so proud of it. He prances when he's carrying it. He runs up and down the stairs with it, and has learned that it's fun to knock it down the stairs so he can chase it. It's too cute for words.

21 June 2005
When Randy and I are downstairs and the two kittens are upstairs, we can hear them thundering around like little elephants. Then...we heard nothing. We looked around. They weren't downstairs. No thunderpaws romping above us.

"It's too quiet."

Randy went up to check. Pippin and Opal had both climbed to the top of the wicker shelves and were stuck there. They can get up, but they haven't worked out the getting down part.

I've been letting Sapphire and Jetta out for large chunks of time in the office. They're having a delightful romp, going everywhere, getting into everything. I simply couldn't keep them cooped up in the Cave all day. It was like having a couple of neutron bombs going off every five minutes. This way they get to burn off several megatonnes of energy before I have to lock them up again.

The first thing Jetta did was head straight to all the regular moggy food bowls and chow down. Naturally, the big cats want to eat whatever is in the Cave for the kittens, so I have to put that away.

The Horde is rather discombobulated at the kitten spree, though none of them are anywhere near as bad as Nefreet is being in the house. But Ariel, Tribble, Sly and even Owl have hissed at them. I was surprised at Owl. He also managed to get himself all the way to the top of the highest set of shelves to escape them. Generally, it's going pretty well with a high degree of tolerance.

Time for cute kitten pictures:
Opal and Pippin
Opal (top) and Pippin use the scratching post to invade the sofa.
Opal
Opal with the catnip mouse.
Nefreet
Nefreet in a state of outrage at the Demon Kitten Invasion.
The tiny tabby girl I'm currently fostering.
She's as sweet as she looks.

22 June 2005
This seemed like the right time to make a serious effort to trap the big fluffy orange and white cat. I got up a bit earlier than usual. When I opened the front door, he was right there. He was startled, but didn't go far. I put the food all the way inside the trap. I wasn't inside the house more than three minutes when I heard KATHUNG. That's a new record for cat-trapping.

I think I can safely say he's feral. He fought that trap ferociously and did a lot of spitting and hissing at me when I transported him to Lolette's. She makes regular runs to her vet's down in L.A. on her way to and from work, and has a deal with him to neuter these stray and feral cats.

While I was there dropping off the cat, I also picked up the second set of shots that the four older kittens needed. Luckily, these are subcutaenous shots and easy to give, so I did it myself.

Things weren't quite as peaceful in kittenlandia today. Nefreet got vicious with the little ones and we had to lock her in the bedroom for a while. No damage done, but we don't trust her at all.

In my office, Ariel took a whack at Sapphire, and Puck gave Jetta several rapid whaps on the head. Again, no damage and the kittens mostly just bounce off and forget about it in a minute.

I've been waiting for the little tabby girl to tell me her name. I got out some of my "Uppity Women" books (it's actually a series) and read out a few names to her. I tried Vashti and Zenobia, and she clearly told me n
ot to pin one of those high-falutin' names on her.
For some reason, I thought of Zoe. This was mostly inspired by the Zoe character from Joss Whedon's FIREFLY series, but not entirely. Late this afternoon, Randy and I took our walk and I told him I was still searching for a name. Quite independently, HE brought up the name Zoe for entirely different reasons. We figured that was a good enough sign.

So she is Zoe for now, until she tells us otherwise.

Ah, Sapphire has just found her way onto my desk. Yes, Saffy, this is a keyboard. The other large furry object is Kate. Kate is curious and baffled, but at least she doesn't hiss. Meanwhile, Jetta is playing around the base of my chair, reminding me how much more careful I must be about every move while the tiny furballs are out and about.

Oh, good. Saff just managed to dump herself and a pile of my papers onto the floor. They needed to be filed anyway. {g}
Here's what feral boy looks like. Note the gorgeous two-color eyes.

23 June 2005
As we sat having breakfast and the kittens romped, Randy sneezed. And he sneezed some more. Thus it was that Pippin and Opal experienced their first rubdown with Nature's Miracle. They took it without a fuss and hardly seemed to notice. Good thing, since it's now to be a part of their weekly routine.

Zoe is dying to get out and play with the other kittens. I originally had her in that cage to keep her isolated for fear of health problems or contagion. That notion is shot to hell. It's impossible to keep the cage isolated enough. Sapphire and Jetta keep getting up there to investigate Zoe...and even as I typed this, I looked over in time to see Saffy steal Zoe's catnip mouse through the bars of the cage. Pardon me while I deal with that.

Back now. I tossed another kind of toy to Saffy and Jetta to play with, and Puck has stolen it. He's lying there munching on it. No, he's decided he made his point and it's not that interesting and now Ariel is batting it around.

I'd say the only thing restraining me at this point is that Zoe is so tiny. She has plenty of spirit, but in sheer size I'm afraid she'd get badly trounced.

Saffy and Jetta have discovered and used the big cat boxes, as well as the big bowl of water. Jetta is barely big enough to drink over the rim of the big water bowl and she looks like she's at the edge of a small lake.

Sapphire has discovered the joys of tail-chasing. She was in the canvas director's chair when she spotted The Snake Attached to her Butt and gave chase. Much hilarity was had (by me).

24 June 2005
I spent the afternoon at Lolette's helping move furniture and rearrange the masses of donated Stuff for their yard sale this weekend. They get tons of donations and have raised some much-needed money for Cause4Cats by having these yard sales. But it's a lot of work getting everything sorted and put out.

At the end of the day, I was going to bring home the feral cat that was neutered. Lolette donned thick, long leather gloves and attempted to get him out of the cage and into a carrier. He was too wild. He fought and fought. He managed to get past her and vanished into an inaccessible corner of the room. He can't get out of there, so we're leaving him alone for now. He'll probably retreat to the cage for food and we can try again.

Sapphire and Jetta get to spend the weekend there at the yard sale on display, in the hope someone might adopt them. They both discovered the rubber tarantula today. I have it hanging by a shoelace and had forgotten it was even there until they ganged up on it.

Saffy also went swimming today. I have no idea what brought it about but I heard the loud PERSPLUNK! and turned to see Sapphire floundering out of the water bowl. She was a soggy moggy.

25 June 2005
Jetta and Sapphire spent the day at the Cause4Cats yard sale. They weren't happy about it, but it doesn't seem to have bothered them TOO much as they are bouncing around the office as usual. Lolette was disappointed at the lack of people with an interest in adopting. Maybe people in this area are over-saturated with animals.

Speaking of which, I got a call from the girl who kept Zoe's two sisters. I halfway expected this, as she doesn't have a place of her own and seems to be finding places however she can. I suspect she doesn't have a sufficiently stable lifestyle to keep these kittens, no matter how much she wants to. What she wants is for someone to conveniently take them in for a few months until she gets on her feet.

My take is simple -- you can either care for them or you can't. I don't believe someone has any business taking in a pet without being able to provide a stable home. We'll see what happens.

Here's a picture of Zoe on Randy's shoulder.
Zoe and Randy

28 June 2005
Last weekend, I took Sapphire and Jetta to the Cause4Cats yard sale where they poor little darlings were on display in the hopes of getting them adopted. Unfortunately, people simply wanted them handed over and couldn't be bothered to fill out the adoption form to prove they're responsible adopters. That's why both kittens are back here tearing up my office with much abandon. The first thing Jetta does upon getting back is stick her head in the food. Saffy just wants to run around.

They both got onto my desk and plopped down next to the keyboard for naps, which was adorable. Of course, I also had to have numerous discussions with Saffy about Not Walking On The Keyboard.

However, today I received extremely disturbing news that has me quite worried. A week and a half ago, I allowed a woman up here to take Saffy and Jetta to an adoption weekend down in L.A. She has only just found out that other kittens that were there that weekend had PanLeuk and have since died from it.

For those who don't know, PanLeukopenia is a 99% fatal virus (in kittens) and highly, highly contagious. People who petted the sick kittens would very likely have passed it on to any other animal they touched, including my two girls. Other kittens taken down there by rescuers from my town have since died. What I have going in my favor is that Sapphire and Jetta were older and in good health, had received their first shots 3 weeks before, and received their second shots right after that event.

Usually, symptoms would have shown up by now, but they could still show symptoms any time in the next five days or so. It also puts ALL of my other cats at risk, and especially puts Zoe at risk because she's so young and small and has only had one of her vaccinations.

I am profoundly upset about this. So far, all three kittens seem healthy and full of energy. My adults seem fine, but none of them have had vaccinations for years and years. I simply couldn't afford it. This means they're aren't protected.

It means even Pippin and Opal could be at risk, if the other two kittens brought back the virus. Any kind of contact with me, my clothes, hair, shoes, whatever, would carry the virus to the house. Since I didn't know about the danger, I didn't take extra precautions. So I have to keep an eye on them as well.

Speaking of those two, they've decided they're no longer interested in kitten food, thankew. They only want adult food. In fact, they only want to eat Nefreet's dry food. We're mixing adult food with kitten food and that seems to be working.

The two of them went to sleep on Randy's lap, drifting off with happy purrs. Randy was in heaven.
Opal, Pippin and Randy

29 June 2005
All the kittens are wildly healthy so far. Tomorrow, I'm sending Zoe off with Lolette to be tested for feline AIDS and feline leukemia. Zoe seems perfectly healthy to me, so I'm not too worried about those things, but I want to be sure. There's no easy or cheap test for PanLeuk, unfortunately.

30 June 2005
Nefreet is not mellowing out much where the kittens are concerned. We do our best to give her plenty of attention and positive reinforcement, but we're a long way from a truce. She made like a Lump this morning and hid from them by burrowing under the bed blanket.

Pippin did the classic kitten thing of standing on the TV remote so that our eardrums were left bleeding from the sudden massive increase in the sound level. Then he and Opal got to romping behind the satellite receiver so that we periodically lost signal.

Meanwhile, Sapphire and Jetta found a new game called Bonk The Human With the Broom Handle. They wait until I'm sitting on my footstool cleaning the cat boxes, then knock over the broom. The first night, Saffy scored a direct hit. I was bonked on the head. The next night, Jetta tried but missed me by inches. Tonight, Saffy had another go, but I'm wise to the game so it missed me by a lot.

Saffy also loves to nap next to the keyboard, though at this moment she's trying to eat a cardboard box.

I've been noticing Kate's weight loss recently, and Knobby periodically throws up, so I went into my records to check on their ages. I was surprised to realize that they're 14 years old. They were born around mid-April 1991. It's no wonder they're looking old.

Ah, Jetta and Saffy have found a string and are playing tug of war with it.

Zoe spent the day at the vet's. Lolette doesn't get home until quite late, so I'll be going over there around 11 pm to pick up the little girl. She complained vociferously on the trip to Lolette's this morning, so I'm sure she'll have plenty to say tonight.

1 July 2005
The kittens discovered new things today.

Bad -- the Sucking Monster aka vacuum cleaner. (Run! Hide!)

Baffling -- the printer. (Paper goes in. Paper comes out!)

Fun -- the cursor. Saffy chased it.

Heard from Lolette on the results of Zoe's tests. As I expected, negative results, no problems, at least for two of the possible diseases.

2 July 2005
I let Zoe out for a little while. She and Saffy got rambunctious. Romping was done. Zoe got a bit wild, actually. Not that I can blame her, having all the kitten energy and being stuck in a cage for weeks.

I'm worried about old Tribble. It took me a good ten minutes of solid searching to find him the other day. He's been hiding out in dark corners and inside dark boxes. He's not interested in treats and I'm not sure he's eating much. Here we are with a big holiday weekend, so there's nothing I can do except keep an eye on him.

Saffy is chasing the cursor, which makes it hard to see what I'm typing. Earlier today, she snuggled up in my lap for a nap, which was totally endearing.

I finally gave in to the inevitable and have added THE KITTEN HORDE to the Moggy Horde index page.

A bunch'o'photos:
Puck and Zoe
Puck meets Zoe. Zoe thinks "Wow, big guy, but I can take him."
Owl
You can see from this how much weight Owl has lost.
Owl
But he can still touch his nose with his tongue!
Sapphire and Jetta
Sapphire slays the catnip mouse!
Sapphire and Jetta
The catnip mouse wars break out.
Jetta
Jetta nabs the mouse!
Jetta
The catnip wars require a nap.

3 July 2005
Pippin and Opal now have the run of the house. Last night...or was it the night before?...I took down the cage and set up that room to be their room with their catbox (a bigger one) and their food and toys, etc. During the day, they can romp upstairs or downstairs. When we go to bed, we close them in that room as a precaution, until they're big enough to stand up to Nefreet.

In the office, wild kitten romping took place after I let Zoe out. Zoe and Sapphire became instant play buddies and Jetta joined in pretty soon after. I tried to take pictures, but they rocket around like furry dynamos at a million miles an hour. I put Zoe back in the cage when she needs to eat because naturally all that the other cats want to do is get in there and eat her food. In fact, Tosca andOwl stick their paws through the wires of the cage, drag the hard kitten food out of the bowl to the outside so they can eat it.

I gave Zoe food before letting her out. I had also brought a plate of cooked chicken skin for the rest of The Horde. The first thing Zoe did was head to that plate and eat about half of the pieces!

In the afternoon, the Mad Romping Kittens found napping places on, under and near my desk. Saffy again napped in my lap or right next to the keyboard. That gave me the opportunity to get a totally adorable shot of Puck giving her a bath.

Photos:
Puck & Sapphire
Puck gives Sapphire a bath. All together now -- awwwwww...
Sapphire & Jetta
A double kitten nap: Sapphire and Jetta.
Jetta
Jetta does the classic monitor overhang.
Kate
Kate says, "I really shouldn't have to put up with kittens at my age."

4 July 2005
It has become impossible to keep my phone on my desk. It gets knocked off about every ten minutes.

I have cleverly discovered that all three kittens will eat kitten food voraciously if I locked them up together in the cage and make them compete for it using two bowls. Suddenly, an entire can of kitten food vanishes! In minutes!

More photos:
Zoe and Theseus
Theseus wonders, "What is this little furry thing in my food bowl?"
Zoe, Jetta & Sapphire
The Three Mousketeers: Zoe, Jetta and Sapphire.

5 July 2005
I've been seeing bloody urine in the catboxes for several days and have been trying and trying to catch the cat that was leaving it. This morning, I came in and found Querida licking blood on her hindquarters. I rushed her to the vet who luckily was able to see her without an appointment.

Querida is back and hopefully not too much worse for wear. She's on Clavamox again. That worked pretty well last time. I'm afraid she'll probably have a regular cycle of these infections as she cruises along in her waning months. She might make it to 19, who knows?

She also has some upper respiratory trouble and a small ulcer on her mouth that was worrying me. The vet is hoping the Clavamox will clear up both of those things, but I need to watch it carefully.

7 July 2005
Just a quick observation -- it's really hard to make revisions to a manuscript when there are kittens dancing on the keyboard.

8 July 2005
Querida hates the liquid meds and fights me every time. It also gives her very bad diarrhea, which is not good. I'm giving her acidophilis to help with that, but am not seeing improvement yet.

Zoe and Sapphire are shaping up to be lap cats. They take turns most of the day. Actually, in Zoe's case, I think it has more to do with getting my attention. This little girl is NOT shy. She talks and talks until I finally get the message, and most of the time the message is FEED ME! She was reaching up to, I thought, have a sniff of my nose. Instead, she nipped the end of my nose. As I said, she knows how to get attention. She doesn't give up, either. She's indefatigable.

My big worry of the day is Sly. I don't know exactly how old Sly is, but he has to be around 12-13. I'm wondering if he could be older, because he's been looking older. He hasn't been interested in treats lately and not showing much enthusiasm for food.

This morning, he was drooling. Not just a little bit, but long ropy strands of drool hanging from his mouth. There were puddles of drool all over my desk. A stack of papers on my desk was soaked with drool. I would keep wiping his mouth with a tissue, but he kept on drooling. I actually had to mop up my desk with paper towels. His front legs were drenched.

The problem is that it's now 12 hours later, and he's still drooling. I called the vet in mid-afternoon, but they said there were so many potential reasons, they couldn't possibly suggest anything beyond the most obvious ones, like eating something really bad for him. I can't think of anything dangerous he could have gotten into. Usually when a cat drools after eating, say, a stink bug, it's short-lived, not something that goes on all day and into the night. I took a look inside his mouth, but couldn't see anything obvious, such as a bite or inflammation or broken tooth.

Unfortunately, my vet couldn't see him today. They were bombarded with emergencies all day and they're booked up solid. If he's still drooling in the morning, I'm going to try and get him in anyway. All I can do right now is hope it isn't serious and will clear up overnight.

And now I must feed Zoe before she chews my nose off.

9 July 2005
Owl shocked me terribly last night. He went after Theseus. Really went after him. I've never seen Owl be so aggressive and I would never have expected it from him. I had to play cop and break up the confrontation and even chase Owl off. He must be feeling better. The anti-histamines are working and most of the fur he pulled from his back has grown back. He's overall looking like he's in better shape, though he needs to put on more weight yet.

Poor old Sly is still drooling. I called the vet first thing this morning, but they're only open half a day on Sat. and simply couldn't fit him in. I've made an appointment for Mon. as a precaution. He doesn't behave as though anything is seriously wrong, though cats are notorious for hiding serious illness until it's too late. At least, that's been my experience. Meanwhile, I keep wiping his face and mopping up the desk.

Our landlord came by today to introduce us to his ladyfriend, and to introduce her to the Moggy Horde. We've been extremely lucky to find a landlord who is such a cat lover, and she's every bit as much or more a cat lover. They adored the kittens, especially Zoe, but I failed to talk them into adopting one. They have their own small horde of moggies already. ;)

11 July 2005
Sly finally stopped drooling on Sunday and seems to back to his normal self. I guess he ate something that taste bad, like a nasty insect, and finally got over it. However, I've been increasingly worried about Tribble, who's not doing so well. Since I already had the vet's appointment, I showed up with Tribble instead.

I put Tribble in the Cave last night in order to get a better sense of whether he was eating, drinking and using the catbox. He's down to skin and bones, and he hasn't been showing interest in food or treats. He's been crawling into a dark box and not budging. This morning, he looked weak and in bad shape to me. He wouldn't touch food.

Tonight, he's in the hospital. The vet said he was badly dehydrated and needs to be on fluids. There's no definite idea about what may be wrong with him. He recently had blood tests in which the major functions, such as kidney and liver, were good. They made need to do x-rays. I see a large vet bill in my near future.

But the reality is, Tribble is 16 and that's pretty old. He may simply be nearing the end of his days. We'll see what the vet says tomorrow.

12 July 2005
Tribble is in the hospital for one more night. They said he's doing much better, responding very well to the fluids, and eating everything they put in front of him. The vet I talked to this morning theorized it could be stress. I told her about the kittens. We're thinking the kittens may have stressed him into not eating, which sent him into a downward spiral into dehydration, something that can happen fairly easily to an old, hyperthyroid cat.

The plan is to bring him home tomorrow afternoon, then let him remain in the cave for the next few days while we're gone on a trip. That way, my sitters can keep an eye on him and he won't have to deal with the kittens.

Meanwhile, Diva has a bad cold and a snot-filled nose, and Theseus seems to have laryngitis.

Bast, please give me a break.

13 July 2005
I found a new site that is much fun, especially if you like The Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics. It's called Stuff On My Cat.

I headed off to B'fld yet again around 4 pm to pick up Tribble. They said he's doing well and want me to keep him on a special diet. Fortunately, I have several cans of the special food lefover from when I was feeding it to Owl. But will the finicky boy eat it?

Since I was making the trip, I took Diva along for an exam. She has so much snot in her nose, she can barely breathe, her eyes are running like faucets and the poor girl is miserable. I have Amoxicillin and some eye ointment for her.

This is bad timing for having to be out of town for several days, but there's not much I can do about it. The petsitters will have their hands full.

The three kitten-monsters in the office -- Sapphire, Zoe, Jetta -- have shredded my legs by climbing up and down into my lap. I have constellations of puncture wounds.

The destructo-kittens also have broken the paper holder for my color printer, rendering it instantly obsolete. sigh....

Zoe, in her boundless enthusiasm to get in my face when I'm preparing the kitten food, knocked two cans of it into the water bowl, creating a tsunami. Half the tsunami landed on me.

We bought a package of ping pong balls as kitten toys. The kittens find black holes to bat the damn things into. They disappear almost as soon as we toss the balls to the floor. But kitten soccer is fun to watch.

Randy tried out the laser pointer on Pippin and Opal. They love it! They chase the little red dot all around the living room and then wander around perplexed when it disappears. We are such naughty humans.

18 July 2005
The moggies were all very glad to have us home again after four days absence. My three kitten girls in the office gathered around me and were all purring at once.

When we first came into the house, Pippin and Opal charged down the stairs. Pippin abruptly realized it wasn't the people he was expecting and he teleported halfway up the stairs until he realized it was us, then we got a proper welcome.

Everyone seems to have done fine while we were gone. Tribble seems okay, though I did find some vomit in the Cave when I let him out. And Diva hid from me for the longest time because she didn't want to endure the pill and eye ointment.

Sapphire spent most of the day in my lap and right now, Zoe is determined to interfere with my typing by chewing on my fingers while sprawling across my lap.

18 July 2005
Although Nefreet is still pissy to the kittens and aggravated about their presence, we've also noticed since we got home that there's something suspiciously like play going on every now and then. I think she's determined to be a curmudgeon, but a part of her wants to be a kitten again.

Zoe has given me a whole new batch of scars tonight as she used my leg for a climbing pole.

21 July 2005
Not a good day for the elderly moggies. When I got into my office, I found that Tribble had thrown up a large amount in the Cave. Now I know for sure that he's the one who has been throwing up like that for weeks (because it's quite distinctive). Querida threw up twice. Knobby threw up once, but I didn't get around to cleaning his small amount up until the end of the day, by which time the ants had claimed it for their own and I had an ant invasion.

I really should take Querida and Tribble back to the vet, but I can't afford the time to go all the way to B'fld, or the money. It's a terrible bind to be in.

I had a long, hard time getting hold of Diva this morning to do her meds. She really didn't want it to happen. I had to use the old distraction technique of doing other things until she thought I'd forgotten about her. Then...NAB!

The rest of the day was spent rescuing papers, pieces of equipment (like my DLS portal) and anything not glued down from the ravages of the kitten monsters.

22 July 2005
Owl's been doing well and his fur was growing back when he suddenly developed another hot spot. I don't know why this happens, but he's licked one small spot bare on his back again, blast it.

Diva seems to be feeling a little better. She remains elusive and difficult to catch for pilling.

Note to self: you MUST begin storing the mouse next to the keyboard and underneath the protective Rubbermaid box when you leave the desk. When I came back to my office after dinner, I had to go spelunking under my desk to find the mouse. I'm down to one broken mouse and one working mouse, so if this one goes kablooey, I'm screwed.

The kittens also managed to unplug my scanner and one other device. SAVE ME FROM THE KITTEN MONSTERS!

Pippin was funny today. Our handyman came over to fix a leak under the kitchen sink. I picked up Opal and introduced her and she was fine. I picked up Pippin to do the same and he gave Bob a big hiss and tried to bite him. But a minute later, he was under the sink "helping" Bob with the repairs.

23 July 2005
Jetta's been such a clown today. She keeps trying to catch things on the screen. She tries from the desk. She tries by hanging over the top of the monitor. She paws and paws and can't catch anything. It perplexes her.

The kittens are now about the equivalent of 8 year old children, except Zoe who is closer to a 6 year old. A precocious 6 year old.

A whole bunch of cute kitty pictures:
Nefreet
Nefreet has a fetish for my sandals.
Pippin and Opal watch Nefreet
Opal and Pippin wonder what the attraction is.
Pippin in icechest
Pippin: "Maybe this will be a cooler place to sleep."
Opal in icechest
Opal: "If Pippin tries it, I have to try it."
Zoe
Zoe slays the mouse!
Zoe
Mouse-slaying is thirsty work.
Zoe
Well, back to the slaying.
Sapphire
Sapphire explores the outside of the cage.
Sapphire
Saffy practices Cattitude.
Jetta
Jetta's soulful look.
Jetta and Zoe
Jetta and Zoe: "What's up, mom?" The other piece of fluff is the end of Theseus' tail.
Pippin and Randy
Pippin naps with Randy.
Pippin and Randy
Bear in mind that Randy is 6' 3" and Pippin is not quite four months old. I think he's going to be a BIG cat.
Owl
Owl explores ways to sleep with the leg that doesn't bend.

26 July 2005
The house kittens and the office kittens have both been enjoying some new catnip toys I brought home for them yesterday, but Pippin and Opal have once again activated their mysterious black hole and every blasted toy we've ever given them has disappeared.

We search and search and I swear it is amazing how well those toys have vanished beyond the ken of woman or beast.

28 July 2005
Jetta has taken to hanging over the top of the monitor with her two front legs stretched down across the screen. Makes it hard to work. She will also sometimes stand up in front of the monitor and paw frantically at it, as though trying to dig her way through the glass. Silly girl.

Jetta

29 July 2005
Hah! I located one of the black holes the kittens created in the living room where I found three ping pong balls and one plastic golf ball. It was a place we'd often look beneath a bookshelf, but this time I went searching with a flashlight and was able to see waaaay into the very back beneath the bottom shelf.

I still don't know to where they disappeared the catnip fish, however.

Since it's summer and I wear sandals all the time, my feet are crisscrossed with scratches caused by exuberant kittens dancing across my feet, usually racing after a toy or after one another.

A pair of neighbohood kids came by yesterday and tried to pawn off another kitten on me. They found a small black kitten, I'd guess about 5 weeks old. It looked to possibly have an infection in one eye. I said absolutely not, I can't take on any more kittens. Full up. Can't do it. I gave them Lolette's phone number and the number of another local kitten rescuer and wished them good luck.

One of my great worries is what would happen if we suddenly have to move. Finding another place to rent with 17 cats, something we could actually afford...it's a nightmare. We never should have taken on these kittens, but here we are, here they are, may Bast be merciful.

Kate has been terribly cranky lately. She is getting old, after all, and she's lost weight. She may not be feeling well. Whatever the reason, she is most cranky about the kittens and frequently takes swats at them even when they're doing nothing to her at all.

Sapphire was sleeping in my lap last night when Zoe decided that was where she wanted to be, so she simply plonked herself down on top of Saffy. I had kitten layer cake.

I played a CD this morning for the first time since the kittens got here. I didn't see Jetta's reaction, but Saffy and Zoe were rather spooked by the noise and the vibrations coming through the desk (lots of bass and drumming). They both vacated quickly.

30 July 2005
There was a large bowl of potpurri in the living room atop a bookshelf. (Note the word "was".) The bookshelf is adjacent to the stairs, giving Pippin and Opal easy access to the bowl of potpurri. They found this handy for nabbing bits of bark shavings and miniature pine cones to bat around. A few days ago, I thought it would be a good idea to get rid of the potpurri. It was extremely old, so it wasn't doing anything in the fragrance department and would be no great loss.

But I didn't get around to it and that's why I got go spend quality time cleaning the bowl of potpurri off the carpet after one too many exuberant pounces by the kittens. I got rid of the rest of the potpurri, but kept the little pine cones as cat toys. Hmmm...those would not be fun to step on in bare feet. Maybe I should rethink that.

Henh henh, I came upon Ariel sleeping in a box, so I gently put my hand out to her, let her sniff my fingers and carefully went to touch her. She couldn't get out of the box fast enough, so I got to stroke her belly a couple of times before she fled. She remains stubbornly untouchable, but I keep trying.

The fluffy orange and white cat with the one gold and one blue eye who we trapped and had fixed has become a permanent resident in the yard. We feed him every day and call him "orange boy". "Orange boy" seems like a ridiculous thing to call such a beautiful cat, even though he's only a stray feral. And besides, there's another, younger, orange and white tabby that's showing up (time to get the trap out again), so it could get confusing. Anybody have a cool name idea for a cat with two-colored eyes?

31 July 2005
And the winner of the Feral Cat Naming Contest is Lyn Palmer who informed me that David Bowie has two differently colored eyes (the result of being punched in the eye at age 12 in a dispute over a girl, according to The Straight Dope). "Orange boy" is henceforth dubbed Bowie. It suits him.

Tribble seems to be doing better. He's still way underweight and not eating as well as I would like, but he's acting more normally, getting into my lap demanding head rubs, that sort of thing, and not throwing up as much. The poor old guy stopped to give Sapphire a sniff and a lick and the next thing he knows, he has this crazed kitten wrapped around his head. I had to rescue him.

Diva is also pretty much back to her normal self. She's talking to me again, taking her treats, and not running away every time I look at her.

Randy and I have noticed that Nefreet is showing more tolerance for Opal than for Pippin. She whacks Pippin any chance she gets, but will take more contact with Opal without reacting as badly. I wonder if it's because Opal is also a tortie, or a female? Or maybe both.

And now: cats, kittens and keyboards.
Pippin & Opal
Pippin & Opal snooze around/on Randy's keyboard.
Pippin
Bissful Pippin.
Pippin
More bliss. More stray stuff on Randy's screen.
cats & keyboard
Why my keyboard has a few cat hairs in it. From l. to r.: Tribble, Jetta, Kate, Theseus.

2 Aug. 2005
Sapphire has developed a passion for plastic bags. She's small enough that she can worm her way into the carton of plastic bags that I have on a shelf whereOwl can't get to them. I know she's there because I can hear the plastic rustling madly. I haul her out of there so she can't accidentally suffocate herself.

But she also attacks the plastic bag I'm using when cleaning the cat boxes. Last night, this resulted in having the contents just removed from the litter box dumped onto my foot and the floor. Gee, I loved that.

The little darling is asleep in my lap now, all innocence and cuteness.

Pippin, meanwhile, thinks it is great fun to drag the tissues out of a a box of tissues. Or out of wastebaskets. Wherever he can find them.

8 Aug. 2005
Pippin has learned how to get onto the freestanding kitchen counter where he disembowelled a roll of paper towels and savaged the paper napkins. He's also starting to take swipes at the fridge magnets.

We discovered two more major black holes containing lots of catnip mice and catnip fish. One is beneath the oven and the other is underneath the fridge. We have to get way down flat on the floor with a flashlight to see what's under there. A long-handled wooden spoon has been commandeered to fish the toys free...usually once or twice a day. We have yet to find the new black hole that is eating all the balls, however.

Nefreet had violent sneezing fits for a couple of days. She sounds better today. I'm hoping the kittens didn't catch the cold from her, though I wonder how she came down with a cold in the first place.

Someone said I haven't mentioned Puck lately. He's in his prime at four years old. He's matured into a big, hefty boy (Randy says he's gotten fat). He's not happy about having to be an indoor cat, and I think that makes him moody. He's taken to sleeping between my keyboard and the monitor stand, and he's way too big to do this, which means I am constantly fighting for control of the keyboard and constantly having to move his paws off the keys. He still goes nuts over my hair after I've shampooed it with Pantene.

Our front porch has become Stray Cat Central. No surprise, since we keep putting food out. We have regulars now. Bowie, of course, and Bowie Junior, are getting quite bold about being close to us. Lately we've had a lovely young Siamese boy and an older black cat (I say older because of the stomach pouch on him/her). The black cat looks like he/she already has a tipped ear, meaning someone may have already trapped and fixed him. There's also a young tabby that shows up occasionally.

Not counting all the neighbor's cats, of course. We're feeding way too many moggies.

As if that weren't enough, I was royally scolded because I hadn't refilled the bird feeder. You haven't lived until you've been cussed at by a Stellar Jay.

10 Aug. 2005
Once again, Pippin got onto the freestanding kitchen counter (a separte unit from the rest of the kitchen counter area), destroyed the rest of the roll of paper towels and ran amok in the paper napkins. He and Opal get up there via a pair of tall kitchen chairs that came with the house when we rented it. We never use the things at all. Mostly they just take up space and collect stray pieces of paper and random objects. Today we finally hauled them out to a storage space and it's amazing how much more space we seem to have in the tiny kitchen now. We should have done that a year ago. At any rate, it ought to discourage the kittens for a while, until they get big enough to simply jump up there.

Randy and I woke up the other morning to the sound of a particularly beautiful and unusual bird song. We couldn't place the song at all. This morning, I heard it again and traced it to our nice neighbors across the way (the same place from which we rescued the four kittens). I stopped by there after our walk and discovered they've just taken in a small gray cockatiel (yellow crest, orange patches on cheeks). Their son found it lying on the side of the freeway and rescued it, so they're calling it Freeway. It seems to be a wild bird, not someone's tame pet. Wonder what his story is?

I've lately been appreciating the beautiful eyes on the four kittens from that litter. All four of them have a green-gold combination. The girls' eyes, Opal, Sapphire and Jetta, are mostly gold with a small ring of green in the center. Pippin's are mostly green with a small rim of gold that makes it look like his eyes are jade.

And now, a metric tonload of cute photos:
Pippin knows that laundry is for sleeping on. Why else would it be there?
Pippin says "Rarrh! I will get this other kitten who dares to mock me!"
Gorgeous Opal.
Opal: "Why yes, I'm quite comfortable. Why do you ask?"
Tribble checks out Zoe.
Adorable Zoe.
Lovely Sapphire.
Sapphire and Jetta wrestle.
The match continues with Jetta assuming the Silly Position.
Pippin prepares to assault the scratching post.
The post is mine!!!
Zoe, Kate and Sly hang out on my desk.
Sapphire loves her Uncle Theseus.
Omgigod! Theseus is eating her head!
He's devoured her entire head!
Sated by eating Sapphire's head, Theseus crashes, oblivious to Zoe using him as a pillow.
Zoe apparently isn't worried about Uncle Theseus.
Opal has yet to learn that playing with Nefreet's tail is a Really Bad Idea. About a moment later, Nefreet chased her off the bed.

12 Aug. 2005
Puck went mad over the Pantene "catnip" in my hair and kept jumping onto my back every time I had to bend over to do something. The last time he did it, he also left a painful set of scratches on the back of my neck as I went to remove him. Yowtch.

The latest silly kitten trick is that Pippin and Opal decided it was great fun to get into the large potted umbrella plant in the bedroom and dig dirt out of it. Randy went to put on his gym shoes and found them full of soil. We've had to place large rocks around the bottom of the plant to discourage the fun.

Zoe and Saffy are both pawing at my screen, trying to catch the moving objects. I have to keep cleaning my monitor, because it ends up with kitten nose smears all over it.

A few more pictures:
Puck and Sapphire
Puck gives Sapphire a bath.
Zoe, Jetta, Sapphire
The evolution of a kitten triskelian, starring Zoe, Jetta and Sapphire
Zoe, Jetta, Sapphire
.
Zoe, Jetta, Sapphire
Zoe, Jetta, Sapphire

16 Aug. 2005
After a year and a half, the neighbor's skittish black cat, Salem, has finally decided I'm all right and will come up to me to get scritiches. Her other black cat, Gizmo, came up to me nearly right away. He's a braver boy. Salem was a long-term conquest. ;)

I'm worried about Tribble because he won't eat canned food. I've been trying to get him interested by putting a bit of the food on my finger, but that didn't work. This morning, I went further and put the finger-tip of food directly into his mouth. That inspired him to eat a very small amount of it from the bowl. Nefreet and both indoor kittens are crazy about a different kind of catfood we have for them. It's too expensive to feed to all the cats, but it's about the only thing Nefreet will eat. I'm going to pick up more of that and try it out on Tribble.

18 Aug. 2005
We returned from a day of shopping with loads of cat food and another batch of new toys. I had to replace the catnip-stuffed fabric toys because they've been ravaged and are losing their stuffing.

We gave Pippin and Opal a ball with a bell inside and they went nuts over it. They also lost in within five minutes. We are totally baffled. In the course of making a thorough search, we found 3 of the ping pong balls, but not the new one.

I don't know how they do it.

21 Aug. 2005
Pippin sat at my feet while I was washing the dishes and told me how bored he was. He doesn't often say anything, so I was entertained to hear these rare meeps. Opal never meows, but she frequently chirps and trills.

He has also amused me with his new trick of making a huge leap off the end of the bed trying to get at the kitten in the mirror.

A couple more photos:
Ariel
Ariel was playing with the ball until I took a picture. Then she wouldn't have anything to do with it.
Zoe and Sapphire
Sapphire and Zoe were sharing the top of my printer when Saffy decided that Zoe needed a bath.
Zoe and Sapphire
Just a bit more licking, Zoe. Hold still.

22 Aug. 2005
The Three Mousketeers engaged in some concentrated office mayhem. Saffypicked up pieces of paper from my desk and made off with them. Jetta simply tried to eat the papers on my desk. Zoe knocked a paperweight onto my hand, which hurt, but my hand was also on the mouse and it made the mouse do peculiar things to the script I was working on.

Little imps, they are.

We've had some catfights around the yard lately, and now our outdoor feral boy, Bowie, has an infected eye. Looks like he was scratched. Randy wants to trap him again (if he'll even let us) and have the eye treated. I have no idea how a vet or we are going to deal with treating an eye on a feral cat. This should be...interesting. But my biggest worry is that he'll remember that trap from the first time and won't come near it.

We haven't seen the young orange and white cat, Junior, for a week.

Hey, thanks to Zoe, I have discovered that there are buttons on my keyboard that control a CD in my CD drive. If not for her dancing paws, I might never have known about that.

23 Aug. 2005
Around ten last night, I drove to Lolette's and borrowed a couple of traps. I set them up on the front porch. About half an hour later, we heard one trap being set off and then a lot of thumping as the cat fought the trap. I went out to have a look and found a young, very pretty tortie.

There's a reasonable chance that she could be the mother of my four kittens. We tried and tried to catch momma cat at the time. It would be ironic if it's her and she wandered right into our trap after eluding us all that other time. She sure looks a lot like Opal and Sapphire. Very wild, very upset, poor thing.

Then around 1:20 am, I woke when I heard the other trap go off. I was too tired to get up then, but it turned out to be the black cat with a possibly tipped ear that has shown up fairly often.

I took them to Lolette this morning. She confirmed that the black cat's ear is definitely a surgical tipping, which means someone has already caught and neutered that one. Tortie went to the vet and the black cat came back with me. She moved like lightning when I let her out.

I brought both traps back with me and we set up one in the hope of catching Bowie. Someone got in there and ate the food without setting it off. Late today, Bowie showed up pleading for food. His eye still looks bad. We didn't want him in the trap as long as that, so we gave him some dry food. We'll set the trap late tonight and hope to get lucky.

I'll get the tortie back tomorrow, then will have to set up the cage, probably on the front porch, so we can take care of her for a couple of days before setting her free.

While I was at Lolette's, I discovered that she has Zoe's other two tabby sisters. The nitwit Goth girl gave them up after all. I'm incredibly aggravated about that. She was so admanant about keeping them, and now they're stuck in a cage with dozens of other kittens, unable to get the kind of personal attention they badly need. They were reaching through the cage to me, desperate for some loving. It breaks my heart. They're such sweet, beautiful girls, just like Zoe, except with even prettier markings. I really, really want them to find a good home.

If you live anywhere between L.A. and Bakersfield and could adopt these kittens, please email me!

And if you can contribute something to cover the cost of spaying the feral cat, that would also be appreciated, so that I can reimburse Lolette, who is paying for it.

Meanwhile, here at Moggy Central, Pippin has gotten big enough to carry a ping pong ball around in his mouth. That's a funny sight!

24 Aug. 2005
The cat wrangling continues. Last night, we trapped a young male tabby. He went to Lolette's vet today.

Bowie is resolutely refusing to be suckered into the trap a second time. Randy keeps wanting to take pity and feed him, but hunger is the only tool we have if we're going to catch him and try to fix that eye. It looks worse each day.

I set up our large cage on the front porch and installed a cat box, small carrier with a towel to use as a hidey-bed, and so on, in preparation for our guest.

We kept the trap baited and ready and late this afternoon, we caught "Smokey", a beautiful Siamese feral that's been coming around. I took Smokey to Lolette's and came back with the tortie and tabby, who had been neutered. Tortie girl had a few sharp words for me when I arrived, but hasn't uttered a sound since.

Tortie girl is set up in the cage so she can recuperate for a couple of days before we let her go. She's not happy about this, but she's eaten and has settled into the carrier to rest.

Tabby boy was still groggy from his operation, so I kept him in his trap for a few hours. When he seeme perkier, I gave him a bowl of food, which he gulped down. A short time ago, I opened the cage. He thought about it for a few minutes before he came out. He didn't move all that quickly either, so I think he's not feeling quite himself yet. Not to mention that he's now a tim instead of a tom.

I've been giving Tribble a special canned food called Precise, in the hope he would be as enthusiastic about it as Nefreet is. The Precise Oceanfish is the only thing she'll eat. He showed enthusiasm for it at first, but that has waned. His appetite is variable, I think. He urgently needs to put on some weight, though, so I keep trying.

25 Aug. 2005
I finally saw Bowie this afternoon, but we're having no luck at all catching him. It's profoundly frustrating.

The tortie-girl is doing all right, though she's mostly hiding in her carrier-bed. She hasn't used the cat box yet, which worries me slightly. She loves the canned food, though. I had a problem when I went to feed her this morning. We have a type of wasp around here commonly called meat-bees or yellowjackets. I have a dangerous allergy to their stings. Last time I was stung, I ended up in the emergency room and I really don't want to risk what would happen if I were stung again.

These wasps go after meat. They're carnivorous scavengers. I quickly found myself surrounded not by a few of them, but a swarm. I hastily retreated, along with the canned food. We have a trap set up for them, but the lure needed to be replaced. I did that and hung the trap at the far end of the porch. That pretty well did the trick. In a relatively short time, the swarm was around the trap, then in the trap, and I was able to feed the girl.

Later tonight, I have to go to Lolette's to pick up the lovely Siamese boy who was fixed today. He doesn't behave like a feral cat, but he may simply be too overwhelmed or afraid. It's tempting to keep him, but that last thing we need is another cat like Ariel that can't be touched or caught. Or another cat, period. Sigh...

The Three Mouseketeers are gathered around my keyboard, just hanging out, waiting for their next opportunity to wreak kitten havoc.

Pippin has become the Flashing Paws of Death on the fridge magnets. I have a thing for fridge magnets, so there are a lot of them for him to go after.

Randy found one of the ping pong balls this morning. He found it when he tried to put on his moccasins and one moccasin, oddly enough, wouldn't fit. {g}

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Lyn Palmer and Mary Sutherland whose generous donations have covered a good chunk of the cost to have tortie-girl and the tabby-boy neutered. I'll give Lolette a check tonight when I pick up the Siamese.

I would greatly appreciate donations to cover neutering Siamese-boy and the left-over expenses, which come to roughly another $65.00. Anyone who would like to donate directly to Lolette can click on the Cause4Cats button to the left of the page. Thanks much.

30 Aug. 2005
Nefreet is in the hospital fighting for her life. She managed to sneak out the front door late last night. When we realized it, we went searching for her and couldn't find her. I've been crying all day because I knew she's never simply run away like this, but I was calling her all day and she didn't return. Late in the afternoon, Randy and I went out to search the neighborhood. Our next door neighbor asked if it was our cat under her front porch.

It was Nefreet. I kept calling her to me and realized with a sickening jolt that she could barely move toward me. When she finally got close enough, I saw that she was severely mauled, apparently by the neighbor's dog (no fault of theirs, since Nefreet should never have been there).

We rushed Nefreet to the emergency clinic in Bakersfield where we spent the next five hours trying to determine whether we could save her. She's having surgery tonight and I'll know more in the morning. She may end up losing her rear right leg. I have to go there in the morning to transfer her to my own vet hospital, providing the surgery goes all right. Total cost will run to $2,000 or more...which I can't afford at all. More credit card debt.

We only got home at 12:30. I'm exhausted and an emotional wreck. More later.

31 Aug. 2005
A quick update on Nefreet, since I have to leave for a meeting in L.A very shortly.

We got to bed around 2 am and the emergency vet called just before 8 am to give me her report. She said it could have been worse. The damage just barely missed her urethra and anus and the bite on her side, while large and nasty, didn't go deep, so she doesn't think there's internal organ damage. However, one thigh muscle was completely torn. She pieced it back together, but there's no guarantee that will work. At this stage, it still looks about 50-50 whether the leg can recover or will have to be amputated. Even if we can save the leg, it will certainly never function like a normal leg again.

I drove to B'fld around 10 to do the transfer. I took Nefreet's medical report and x-rays with me to give to my vet. I almost lost it when I saw my poor girl. We put her in the bottom half of the carrier, minus the lid, to transport her. The entire back end of her body is shaved. Numerous stitches from smaller bites, plus bites and scrapes that couldn't be stitched. The major damage and stitching extends from the base of her tail all the way down the back of her left rear leg.

She's in a lot of pain, so she was fairly well tranked up and quiet. I got her over to my regular vet hospital where my favorite vet there had a look at her. Those who are squeamish should skip the next paragraph.

I heard from the initial triage tech at the emergency clinic that Nefreet had some maggots on her when we brought her in Monday night. She was probably lying under that porch for the entire night and a hot day before we found her. While I was waiting for my vet this morning, I saw a maggot squirm out of the sutures. I was seriously grossed out by this and instantly called for the vet. By the time he made it into the room, the maggot had vanished somewhere. He wasn't particularly worried. He said they looked more gross than they were. I'll have to take his word for it. I bothers the hell out of me, though.

He was concerned about something he saw on the x-rays which might indicate some injury to the pelvis, though nothing major and nothing definite. He's equally concerned about how the leg will heal, but mostly he's concerned that she'll be able to pee and poop normally. He'll be watching her closely for a couple of days to see how that goes before we can think about bringing her home.

I want to thank everyone very, very much who have been donating. I don't have time to list names right now, but I will do so. I'm going to set up a Roll of Honor page for all my donors. I should have done that sooner, but it's never too late to let people know how much you appreciate them. Thank you all.

1 Sept. 2005
NEFREET
approx. 1992 - 1 Sept. 2005

Nefreet didn't make it. The vet called this morning to give me the bad news. What it comes down to, tragically, is that we didn't find her in time. The combination of serious injury with the time she was outside exposed to the elments and infecting sources were too much.

During the night, she went downhill fast and became septic (meaning her entire body became infected with toxic microorganisms). Her temperature plummeted. In spite of their best efforts with anti-biotics and keeping her warm, she simply didn't make it.

I am heartbroken. It's hard to write because I'm crying so much. I can only take some small comfort from knowing that I was able to give her some love and she knew I was there when I saw her last, and that she at least was not in pain. But it's not a way I would ever want a beloved friend to die.

I had a special bond with her from the very beginning. It was like this -- you look across a room, you lock eyes with someone you've never seen before, and there is an instantaneous and powerful connection between you.

I saw Nefreet from across my yard one night. We locked eyes, I knelt down, and held out my arms to her. She raced across the yard and literally threw herself into my arms. From that day on, she was my dear girl. She may have become a fractious, cranky psycho-kitty later on, but we always had that bond.

Every night she would climb into my lap. I had to be sitting just so, and she would have to get in my lap, then out, then in, circle around and settle in just so. That was the routine.

She would crack us up with her rocket-butt routine. After she did something nasty in the catbox, she would run at full speed out of the bathroom, through the kitchen and zoom up the stairs like a rocket.

She was with me for 12 years. She was at least 13, possibly older. That's a decent life and it was a good one filled with plenty of love. Maybe not as perfect a life as she demanded, since I didn't get rid of all the other cats, but it was a good one.

She was beautiful, temperamental, intelligent and unique. I will miss her terribly.

Goodbye, Nefreet, my Egyptian princess. May you romp in sunny fields of catnip with all the food you can eat, with slow lizards and fat mice and low-flying birds...and no other cats. It's your heaven and you get to enjoy it by yourself.
Nefreet
I thank everyone for the donations and will set up a proper thank you page today, if I can bear it. There remains a huge vet bill to handle. Donations in memorium of Nefreet will be greatly appreciated.

Before the vet called, I had gone outside to check on the trap I had left set up in the bushes. We've seen no sign at all of Bowie, but we caught an Uninvited Guest -- a big and very pissed off raccoon.

After I dealt with the bad news about Nefreet, we took the raccoon for a drive into the national forest lands and let him go near some water. Sorry, buddy, it's back to the wilderness. No more free cat food for you.
raccoon

7 Sept. 2005
I haven't been able to post for several days due to a number of personal crises that fell upon me all at once. Nefreet's death was one of them, of course. I also had my new computer system crash when the hard drive failed and more other crap than I care to mention going wrong with it. I'm still in the process of getting it fully set up and functional.

Over the Labor Day weekend, there was a fire three miles down the road from us. It burned a line of power poles and knocked out the power to our entire area for nearly two days. So I haven't been having a lot of fun, all in all.

So many small things conspire to remind me of Nefreet. Her special food bowl. No longer being greeted by her when I come into the house. Nefreet would follow us upstairs when we put the kittens to bed for the night in the spare room. She would stick her paw under the door, and both we and the kittens would play with her under the door. Opal still goes to the door to look for Nefreet's paw at night. There's her green blanket...she loved being the Lump under the green blanket. The two kittens have become the Bed Moles who burrow under the green blanket. I wonder if they learned it from her?

The three kittens in my office have been absolutely wild lately. They've found their way onto the highest places where they get crazy playing and make heart stopping falls to whatever is below them. None of them has been hurt yet, but I end up jumping out of my chair a lot to make sure.

Saffy has been the Whirling Dervish chasing her tail in the canvas chair.

As I've written previously, I keep hauling the kittens out of the stash of plastic bags I have in a milk crate because I was worried about something happening. Well, it happened. One night just as I was about to leave, a kitten went ZOOOOMING past me with a plastic bag on her tail. I think it was around her neck, but it was billowing and rustling and making demonic demands at her butt as she flew around the room. She was going so fast, I couldn't even determine which one it was, except that I then saw Jetta and Sapphire in her wake going at Warp 10.

I futilely tried to catch up, but Zoe zoomed behind my three filing cabinets and a plan file, where there's a narrow space between those and the wall. Somewhere back there, she finally shook off the Plastic Bag Monster. It took me a while to coax her back out of hiding and she looked quite freaked out.

Saffy learned nothing from this incident and I had to haul her out of the plastic bags yesterday.

The feral cats have returned, their desire for food obviously greater than their fear of us, even after being fixed. I came out the other night and there was Bowie, Smokey Siamese, tortie-girl and tabby-boy. In fact, tortie-girl has managed to get herself caught in the trap twice since we had her fixed!

It may be a coincidence, but Bowie has shown up again after we trapped and relocated the raccoon. His eye is still in bad shape, but he is adamant about avoiding that trap. I truly despair of being able to catch him again.

Some pictures, including one of Zoe that is cute beyond words:
Zoe
This picture of Zoe is so cute it makes my teeth ache!
Ariel playing with zoe
Ariel playing with Zoe.
Theseus
A split-second before I took this shot, Theseus had his huge belly and all four feet in the air, clutching the catnip mouse.
Theseus
Finally, a picture of Tribble when he isn't squinting. But he looks like he wishes he were squinting.

9 Sept. 2005
In case I didn't have enough to worry about, I found a scorpion in the cat litter today. I was going mindlessly through the twice-daily routine and as I was scooping there it was, a small brown scorpion in the bottom of the box.

We had many of these when we lived up by Yosemite. It's the first one I've seen down here. I shouldn't be surprised to learn we have them down here, but so far I've mainly seen Black Widows. It might easily have come with us on the move in the dozens of boxes of paper, books, magazines, etc. At any rate, now I have that to worry about.

Opal is such a sweet girl, but in the past couple of days, she's been especially endearing. I think she reads my mind. The other night she was in Randy's lap. I looked at her and thought sadly about no longer having Nefreet to come and curl up in my lap in the evening. Opal immediately got up and came into my lap. Then last night, she came and curled up in my lap in exactly the way Nefreet used to do.

Pippin, meanwhile, has developed a suckling obsession. He constantly wants to suckle on Randy's track pants and leaves behind large drool spots when he does. We're trying to break him of the habit before he gets much older.

12 Sept. 2005
For those who might be able to help, here is a site that is coordinating rescuing and adoption of pets from the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

http://disaster.petfinder.com/emergency/

13 Sept. 2005
Is it in the genes? The two tortie sisters, Opal and Sapphire, have been separated for a couple of months. Opal lives in the house, Sapphire in the office. They have both trained their humans to play fetch.

Opal is more sedate about it. She has her favorite catnip mouse which she brings to Randy or me so we can throw it, but she does this in a genteel manner.

Sapphire waits until I'm sitting on my footstool cleaning the catboxes, then she finds a toy and races over with it. Naturally, I have to throw it so that I can continue with the cleaning. The trouble is, she's so damned fast! No matter how far I throw the toy, she races for it and races back so quickly, I don't have time to finish the next scoop. And I can't ignore her, because she ploughs broadside at full speed into the plastic bag I'm using. She also thinks that the instant I touch the mouse, my fleshly parts are fair game. This is why I have numerous puncture wounds on my left leg and my left hand looks like I've been in a war.

Of the feral cats, it looks like Bowie's eye is slowly getting better, though I can now definitely see a red injury spot in his blue (left) eye. He's too quick and determined not to be caught, so it doesn't look like we'll get the chance to help his healing process.

The young orange and white tabby, Junior, has reappeared after we hadn't seen him for weeks. He's the next one we need to trap.

I'm also researching and thinking about what sort of cheap and easy habitats I could put under the front porch to help this particular group of ferals get through the winter. I've done the trap&neuter thing, and I feed them every day, so I feel some responsibility for getting them through the winter.

15 Sept. 2005
We caught Bowie Junior yesterday. I took him to Lolette who had him spayed and given shots. When I went to pick him up this morning, she said, "I don't think he's feral." She told me something I had never heard before, that feral cats won't talk to you. Junior was talking up a storm. His voice sounds like a rough rachet at the moment.

When I brought him home, I conveyed that to Randy and we talked about it. We definitely don't want another Ariel situation with a cat we can't touch, but if Lolette is right and he isn't really feral, we might take him in. Consequently, he is now set up in my office inside the big cage, and currently hiding in a small carrier that we put in there for him. He didn't panic or react like a truly wild cat when we transferred him into the cage, either, although Sapphire was a brat and whacked at him through the bars.

It's particularly bad timing, since we have to make a quick trip and are leaving tomorrow, but that will also give him a couple of days to simply settle in. The big test will be whether he'll get over his fear and let us touch him. If so, we'll consider letting him join the Horde. If not...he gets to return to his previous life, albeit with less accessories than he had before. ;)

For the moment, we're calling him BJ (short for Bowie Junior, which was never really supposed to be a serious name).

I noticed something odd dangling from Pippin's mouth this morning. When I investigated, I camea way with a baby tooth in my fingers. Randy was rather perturbed at first. This is his first experience with kittens and I had to explain that they have milk teeth, or baby teeth, which they lose the same way we do.

Tribble worries me. I go out of my way to give him a special portion of the best canned food in the morning and at night, and I often see him eating dry food, but he is downright skeletal under all the fur and seems fragile to me. It's almost as though he's wasting away, and yet we can't seem to find a cause. It looks like another trip to the vet is in order.

18 Sept. 2005
Back from the short trip to a bunch of moggies happy to see me.

Junior remained in hiding after I got home. Tonight, I heard a couple of very strange cat meows and was wondering what was wrong with one of the cats. Then I realized the sounds were coming from Junior. He's come out and is sitting on top of the carrier to look around a bit. He'll probably vanish inside if I get up from the desk and come his way, but it's good to see him out of hiding. He has an odd voice, though. Rather hoarse and rachety.

Lolette and I finally managed to coincide our schedules and we had a Shoot'em Up Sunday. All the kittens and nearly all the adult cats received their 4-in-1 shots. The only ones we didn't get, because we ran short on vaccine, were Ariel (who is uncatchable anyway), Knobby and Kate. Lolette hadn't gotten a good look at Theseus before. I hauled him over for his shot. I had told he's built like a tank, absolutely solid, wide and dense, but she was amazed by his bulk all the same. He's a rock-solid Sumo wrestler.

Both Zoe and Saffy are squeezed into my lap. Makes typing a challenge.

Pippin is starting to show a bit too much interest in Opal, Randy says. It's time to get the spaying done!

19 Sept. 2005
Junior is getting a tiny bit braver. He's spending some time sitting on top of the carrier instead of hiding, and is daring to eat when I'm in the room. Last night, he even played for a couple of minutes with one of the toys I gave him. To my relief, he's been excellent about using the catbox, too. No accidents.

Lolette and I were speculating how old Junior might be. Anywhere from 8 to 10 months, we figure.

My vet wants a whopping $92 each to spay the female kittens. No way I can afford that, so I'm going to use Lolette's vet. She transports them down and brings them back from L.A., but the four females are still going to cost a couple hundred bucks. Yoicks.

And I'm taking Querida and Tribble to the vet tomorrow. Querida needs a follow-up. We have yet to resolve that ulcer on her mouth. I'm not sure what can be done for Tribble, but I don't like the shape he's in.

Awww, Zoe just brought me her catnip mouse. She looks so cute walking around with a big furry mouse in her mouth. I'm undecided whether to have her fixed tomorrow with the other girls. She's a month younger than them, but still technically old enough. I'm vascillating about it.

One of the errands on the short trip we took was visiting with Randy's sister, Nina, who adopted my Polydactly Princess of Thumbs, Artemis. She's done a wonderful job getting Artemis' weight from a whopping, grossly fat 20 lbs. down to a more reasonable 12.8 lbs. Once again, Artemis seemed to have no memory of who I was. She hid from me and even when Nina brought her out so I could pet her, Artemis acted like I was a stranger. Ah well. Nina and Artemis adore one another and that's all that counts.

21 Sept. 2005
Yesterday morning, I loaded the car up with moggies. It was quite a ride listening to five-part harmony. Opal, Sapphire and Jetta went to Lolette's to be transported to her vet. Querida and Tribble when to Bakersfield with me to be checked out and some tests done. Querida continues to have a lot of blood in her urine, so much that she's slightly anemic. And poor Tribble is down to a mere 7 lbs. He's lost another 8 ounces in just a couple of months. There is always the possibility he has some kind of cancer that we haven't detected, but I'm reluctant to submit him to the difficulty of a biopsy at his age and in his condition.

The problem is that neither one of them has an easy or obvious illness. Their kidney functions, etc. come out okay. We're down to few options, so they are both going on steroids for a while to see if we can get the probable inflammatory conditions under control. Querida also has to take anti-biotics, though, because of her frequent upper respiratory problems. All I can do now is wait and see whether they improve.

Earlier today, I moved Junior's carrier (with him in it) to a different side of the cage and put in a cat bed that I'd picked up for him. Sure enough, a few minutes later he was out investigating the bed. I quickly removed the carrier and now he has to deal with not having a hidey-hole. He bitched about it quite a lot! He has the oddest voice I've heard on a cat. But now he's settled down and is curled up in his new bed looking reasonably relaxed. My instincts tell me he's too feral to turn him into a member of the Horde, but I'll give it a while longer.

Pippin was confused and bereft without his sister. He spent a lot of time glued to Randy for attention. I think Zoe was likewise confused about her sudden lack of playmates.

I met up with Lolette around 6:30 this evening and brought the three girls home. This time I had three-part serenades. Opal went to sleep on Randy and he refused to move for the longest time rather than disturb her. I locked Saffy and Jetta in the Cave while I had dinner, but I should have known better. When I came into the office, there they were, waiting for me at the door as per usual. Saffy's happily asleep in my lap at the moment. I guess I'll abandon the notion of keeping them inside the Cave tonight and leave them to their own devices.

22 Sept. 2005
The girls are doing well and hardly seemed bothered by their operations. I'm bothered because Opal seems to have a small bubble of her insides poking between a couple of stitches, but it doesn't seem to bother Opal at all. I'm not sure whether to be concerned about this, or simply let it heal.

We tried to keep Opal and Pippin separate last night so that he wouldn't try to roughouse with her. We locked him in the upstairs room as usual, but he very nearly used a battering ram to bring the door down. He cried. She cried. We gave up.

Sapphire has been commandeering my lap just about every time I'm sitting at the computer. Zoe's been chasing the cursor all day. Jetta is perched on top of the monitor "dusting" it with her tail.

Not much luck with Junior today. When I went to put his bowl of dry food inside the cage, he whacked me hard. Food flew everywhere. He's lashed out at me a couple of times today. My instincts tell me he's too feral and I may as well let him go. I'll give it a little while longer. I think he's extra freaked out right now because I took away his hiding place.

Before the steroids, I had to take food over to Querida wherever she was in order to get her to eat. Now she's at my feet demanding food in the morning. I wish I'd see that change in Tribble, but so far he seems the same.

24 Sept. 2005
Lolette said she'd take Opal back to the vet today if I wanted to have her stitches looked at. So I took the poor protesting girl over this morning and let Lolette have a look at her. She said Opal was fine, that the little "button" I was seeing is something this vet does so that when the cat is healed and the fur has grown back, it's still possible to feel that she's been fixed without having to search for an obscure scar. Makes sense to me.

Opal talked quite a lot on the trip there and back.

I decided to let Junior go. I think he's mostly feral and that at best he'd be friendly but untouchable like Ariel. I really don't want another Ariel to deal with. I put a small carrier inside his cage and he went right into it. I opened the carrier under the apple tree outside my office. He didn't bolt. He was cautious about coming out and then he slowly, cautiously walked across the yard, talked a couple of times, and went under the front porch. I imagine we'll see him around.

I can stop wasting money buying wasp pheromones to put in the traps. The wasps are insanely crazy about the dry cat food I put out for the ferals, so I'm going to save money and start using that.

I'm terribly worried about Tribble. He doesn't seem to be responding to the steroids and I've been unable to get him to eat canned food. He curled up in a listless ball and didn't show interest in anything. He's so frail and weak that he seems like a dying cat. I mentioned it to Lolette when I was there with Opal and she suggested baby food. I picked up a couple jars on the way home and tried it out on Tribble right away. He loved it! I gave him one spoonful and he ate it. I gave him a second spoonful and he ate it, then a third and part of a fourth. Afterwards he finally drank some water. I was so relieved to see him eat. I'll give him more tonight and hope he continues to show interest in it.

25 Sept. 2005
Shortly after I posted my blog last night, I went to give Tribble his nightly pills and it had become obvious what was wrong with him. He has a raging URI, brought on by the steroids (which suppress the immune system). I suppose it should have occurred to me that he would need anti-biotics like Querida, since he has so many of the same health issues she does.

I didn't give him the steroid, of course, and I immediately started giving him the Baytril I have for Querida. I'll have to get more from the vet, but he was so congested, I knew I had to start treating him immediately. He's doing a little better tonight. Still not eating a lot, but at least he's eating a small amount and sounds like he can breathe again.

Pippin has been throwing up a lot in the past few days. Aside from that, he looks and acts fine, but if he keeps it up, he's going to the vet.

Cat photos:
Zoe
Zoe the monitor elf.
Pippin
Pippin decides the drawer is a cool place to be.
Pippin & Opal
So naturally Opal must be interested.
Pippin & Opal
Opal is determined. "No", says Pippin, "there isn't enough room for both of us."
Opal
"Hah!" says Opal, "All your drawers are belong to us."
Owl
Owl being patient.
Sly
Sly being curious.

27 Sept. 2005
On Monday, Randy and I were preparing to head to Bakersfield to take Pippin and Tribble to the vet. Pippin was bouncing happily around and Randy was having a change of heart about taking him. At which moment, Pippin stopped and threw up. That clinched that.

So off they went, the kitten and the elder. Tribble complained, as always, and that got Pippin going, though Pippin has a softer, more pathetic mew.

The vet is having us try some special easy-digestion food on Pippin. It's the really expensive kind you have to buy at the vet's. It requires a prescription. I'm sorry, but what the hell kind of a scam is that? A prescription for cat food? That is total absurdity and a scam.

At any rate, we haven't caught Pippin throwing up again since we started giving him the special food. Opal has to eat it, too, but that shouldn't be a problem (except for the cost!).

Randy spotted a type of cat on a cat breed poster at the vet's, a Bombay. We looked up the Bombays in our cat breed book at home. The description and look fits Pippin perfectly, right down to the temperament. While it's highly unlikely that he actually is a Bombay, he sure looks like he could have some Bombay in him.

I had to take poor Tribble back because the vet I saw last week wasn't in yesterday and the other vets wouldn't give me Baytril without seeing him. This vet seemed more concerned about some of the kidney readings. She tested his urine and found a lot of white and red blood cells. Not good. We're having an additional test done to look for bacterial infection, but we could also be looking at kidney failure.

He's doing better on the Baytril and ate pretty well today. I'll have to take it a day at a time and see how he goes.

Zoe and Sapphire have decided they both want to dominate my lap. If Zoe is there, Saffy simply lies down on top of her. A kitten layer cake! Then Zoe wriggles out and comes around to lie on her. Then they try it side-by-side, which exceeds the width of my lap and somebody falls off. They'll have to sort this out before they get much bigger.

29 Sept. 2005
Pippin has thrown up once since we started giving him the new food. At least, we hope it's only once. In that disgusting way cats have, as soon as Pippin throws up, Opal rushed over to eat it. If he's thrown up other times, we'd never know it. Sigh...

Tribble is doing progressively better on the Baytril. He even got into my lap last night, something he hasn't done for a long time. But I still need to get some weight back onto his bones.

It looks as though Bowie has gotten over his eye injury. That's a lucky thing, since we were completely unable to catch him again. We haven't seen Junior again since I let him go. I think most of the cat food we put out for the ferals goes into the stomachs of my neighbor's cats. They're lovely cats and I like them, but I wish they'd eat at home!

30 Sept. 2005
Sly was on my desk and I was standing next to him wrestling with something in my hands that I was trying to pry apart. It gave suddenly, my hand went flying and I ended up punching poor old Sly in the snoot. He ran off, then ran around the office sneezing. He gave me the most heartrending looks of betrayal. Now he won't let me near him. I feel terrible!

Opal adores her furry catnip mousie and carries it everywhere. We say, "Where's the mousie?" and she'll bring it to us. She'll bring it to us when she wants us to toss it for her. When we're sitting on the sofa, she'll bring it to us like a trophy. We take the mousie upstairs when we put them into their room for the night and in the morning she'll carry the mousie downstairs with her.

Pippin got hold of her mousie and began running around with it, forcing Opal to chase him around the house. I didn't get to see this. Randy called to tell me about it. He said that if Opal stopped chasing him, Pippin would go up to her and tease her with the mousie until she chased him again! It sounded hysterical.

1 Oct. 2005
We were finishing up dinner when some friends called. They have a young black cat, about a year old, and a lot of parrots and are dedicated animal lovers. Rather unexpectedly, they asked if they could come over and adopt one of my kittens as a playmate for their lone cat. And that is how, a mere half-hour later, Jetta was off to her new home. I wish I would see how she reacts to the parrots!

Oddly enough, I'd been thinking a lot lately of trying to get Jetta adopted out. Bast must have been listening. I feel the strain of having so many cats, especially when they need vet visits, and I thought Jetta in particular would do better if she had more one-on-one attention. It's hard to give enough attention to every cat when I have this many.

I look forward to hearing how it goes. Keeping my fingers crossed. This brings the number of The Horde down to 15.

4 Oct. 2005
Yesterday, Jetta came back. My friends' cat, Missy, is one of those female cats that simply cannot tolerate having another cat around. Missy became a trifle psychotic. She didn't hurt Jetta, but she did hurt her people! B. showed me the scratches on his arm when he returned Jetta. It's a shame because he liked Jetta a lot and she had taken to him, but Missy was there first.

I've had a couple of cats like Missy. Nefreet was one, though she was tolerating Opal and Pippin better than I expected.

Back in the early 80s, my late husband, Peter, and I had gone out for a walk when a lovely long-haired, pastel tortie jumped out of the bushes and instantly adopted us. She followed us home and promptly moved in. We named her Sheba. Yes, I know, not the most original name in the world, but when the Queen of Sheba moves in, you don't argue with her about the name.

She was a delightful cat. She would fetch balls the same way Saffy and Opal fetch their toys. Everything was wonderful with Sheba until we took in a second cat, Bast. Bast was a small black cat rather like a black Siamese. Sheba hated her. Sheba hated having any other cat around. Then Bast became pregnant and gifted us with four kittens: four tuxedo males and one calico female. Longtime readers of Tales of the Moggy Horde know two of those tuxedo boys as Zorro and Achilles.

At any rate, I think the addition of the kittens was the final straw. Sheba and Bast would have fights outside in the wilderness. We lived in the mountains where coyotes were accustomed to snacking on cats. Sheba and Bast both disappeared on the same night. I suspect they were involved in fighting one another and didn't see the coyotes that got them. Cats become oblivous to everything when they fight.

Here is a picture of Sheba, expressing her displeasure with us.
Sheba
But back in the present, Jetta was happy to be back and Sapphire was happy to see her. The energy level has gone up ten notches. I don't know whether three kittens is the tipping point, or it's Jetta herself, but it was calmer and quieter around here for the couple of days she was gone. They were back to bouncing off the walls in no time.

Pippin threw up once more, in spite of the new food, but this time we found bits of plant material in it. It could be blades of grass. I grew a pot of oak grass for Nefreet and it's still in the bedroom. I've seen Opal snacking on it, so Pippin easily could be. Or he may have gotten hold of the spider-plant. We can't be sure this is the cause of his throwing up, though, since this is the first time we've found anything like that. We'll have to wait and see.

Poor Saffy is sneezing. In fact, she's lying in my lap sneezing on me right now. She must have picked it up from Tribble, who has been sneezing a lot. He hasn't gotten over his URI yet.

There was a serious fight late this morning. I heard the screaming and yowling and ran to break it up. It was Puck attacking Owl. This was no casual fight either. They were rolling around tearing out fur. When I split them up, Owl ran off, but Puck pursued him and jumped him again. I broke it up, then followed Puck around the office until I was able to get hold of him. He knew he was in trouble. I locked him in the Cave for an hour or so. I thought he needed an extended time-out to fully get across to him how pissed off I was.

I spent a long time soothing Owl and checking him carefully for bites. I couldn't see blood or find bite wounds, though he would growl when I touched certain spots. I'm hoping not to be surprised with an abscess in a few days. He was terribly freaked out. He held his own pretty well, considering that he's a lot older that Puck, isn't in the best health and has a bum leg.

As it happens, Owl is going to the vet tomorrow because I've seen blood on his stool three times now, and I don't think he's put on much weight. I know the vet would ideally like me to put Owl on a special diet and not let him eat anything else. Unfortunately, it's impossible for me to do that because of all the other cats. Owl gets to spend the night in the Cave in the hopes of getting a sample to take with me. Not one of the most exciting things in life to hope for, but there you go. The joys of being owned by cats. ;)

6 Oct. 2005
I suddenly find myself inundated with sick cats. I took Owl to the vet yesterday because of the continued blood on his stools. He's lost more weight, is a little over 9 lbs., so that's worrisome. The vet is having me treat him for parasites, on the off chance it might help and probably we're going to put him on some kind of steroids if we don't see an improvement.

I discussed a host of other cats with the vet while I was there. Pippin has bad diarrhea now. The vet doesn't think a kitten that young needs special diet food, so we're treating Pippin for parasites, too. And Opal along with him, since they share the litterbox, food, water, etc.

The vet is somewhat stymied over Tribble and Querida, though. Right now the plan is to try and get their URI problems under control, then keep them on anti-biotics while we try the steroid regimen again. However, Tribble had at least two major vomiting sessions this afternoon and I'm deeply worried about him, and I don't like the look of the ulcer on Querida's lip. It's frustrating not being able to do more for them.

Sapphire continues to sneeze. She had a protracted sneezing fit a few minutes ago. And I can tell that Theseus doesn't feel well. At one time in the past, the entire Horde got sick at once with one of these URI things and it was sheer hell.

The vet also had me bring home some Lysine in a gel form. It comes in a plastic tube/syringe with a notched plunger. There's a ring on the plunger and you "dial" the ring up to the dose and the ring stops the plunger at that dose amount.

I hate it. It's messy, difficult and a PITA to use. The dose is too much to get into a cat's mouth all at once and the gel is thick enough that they can spit it out. The cat that mugs me and chews my fingers off to get it is Zoe, and she doesn't have any need for it! The vet wanted me to give it to any cat that is having the URI problem, but once I get rid of this tube, I'm going back to the capsules. I'd much rather pop a capsule down a cat's throat than muck around with this stuff.

The vet shook his head and laughed when he brought out an entire handful of bottles and tubes to take home. "You must have a huge medicine cabinet," he said. No kidding. Not to mention how long it takes me to do pills and medicines twice a day.

I would like an epidemic of health to break out, thank you, Bast.

7 Oct. 2005
Tribble seems to be doing better today, meaning I haven't caught him throwing up. Saffycontinues to have ferocious sneezing fits, and has made sure to sneeze all over me as often as she could. I think I've gotten the knack of using the Lysine gel syringe thingie, so I'm less peeved about that.

Speaking of peeves and solutions to them, I get tired of buying plastic litter scoops that always end up breaking. I was thinking that someone needed to make one of these large scoops in metal so it would last. A couple of days ago, I went to Petsmart and I actually found one. It's called DuraScoop with a New! Patented Design! Made in China! Earth-friendly! Anyway, it's BIG and shiny silver with a padded handle and makes a cool metallic schlangy sound. Best of all, it works great, though my wrist is getting a workout because it's heavier than plastic. I'll end up with my right wrist twice the size of my left.

Look at that. I just wrote an entire paragraph about a poop scoop. Is that pathetic or what?

9 Oct. 2005
Sapphire seems to be feeling marginally better and she's not sneezing as much, though she made sure to sneeze on me as usual. However, I've heard Zoe sneeze a couple of times. I really hope she's not coming down with it.

I had to give Puck another time-out in the Cave today when he got into a bullying mood this morning. I suspect it's caused by boredom from having to be inside all the time, but there's not much I can do about it. At the moment, he's in my lap, something he hasn't done for a long time. This makes life difficult given that he's matured into a big, hefty moggy who takes up a lot of room, but I want him to feel loved, so I'm doing my best to literally work around him.

The kittens have managed to lose five of their catnip toys. I did a search around the office, but this place is one big black hole and nary a toy did I find. Zoe still has her mousie and there's one other catnip mouse around. I need psychic powers.

Speaking of Zoe, she just jumped onto my desk and blasted me with her Cute Rays. I am helpless in the face of her raw Cuteness Power. Even Puck has fallen prey to her power. He's abandoned my lap so that Zoe could take over. And just think, she's only five months old. When she's fully grown, she'll be lethal.

8 Oct. 2005
I received a fun little book from Workman Publishing (who put out quite a few cat books and some great cat calendars). The title is Your Cat's Just Not That Into You, subtitle "What part of meow don't you understand?" Written by Richard Smith, illustrations by David Sipress. It's a joke book, of course, with kernels of genuine advice hidden here and there. It's designed for those moments when you want something to make you laugh and you only have five minutes to spare. This is for the cat person who doesn't take cats too seriously and doesn't mind a bit of edgy humor about cats.

What I notice the most is that the cat on the cover reminds me so much of Ariel...right down to the attitude.

book cover for Your Cat's Just Not That Into You

10 Oct. 2005
It suddenly occurred to me this morning where some of the missing cat toys might be. I have a row of cat boxes, but they're not regular cat boxes. They're big, black utility tubs (the kind you get at the hardware store) and much bigger than regular cat boxes. They have a rounded overhanging lip and sloping sides, which makes them easy to clean, but also means there's a tunnel-like space between each box even when they pushed together.

I moved one box away from the wall and found an entire stash of missing toys. After moving all the boxes out, I found: 10 balls, 5 catnip toys, and a handful of other kinds of toys. Every missing toy I ever gave them was there. A cornucopia of cat toys!

Unfortunately, it also revealed a lot of toughly compacted cat litter adhered to the concrete floor. I set to work cleaning it up. The new metal scoop proved useful for this, though some of the compacted litter had nearly become one with the concrete and I seriously thought I'd have to dig through the tool box and find a chisel. It was disgusting job, but it had to be done. Afterwards, I stuffed packing paper into the spaces between the boxes to prevent them from becoming black holes again.

Of course, before I made this discovery, I'd made an on-line order for more of the anti-allergy liquid (Nature's Miracle) and ordered another batch of cat toys. My spoiled moggies will have toys coming out of their ears.

There is cat snot on my monitor. Someone has sneezed all over it.

12 Oct. 2005
I'm glad to say that Sapphire is much better and full of her usual vim. My left hand is covered with scratches to prove it after a morning session of playing fetch-the-fishie.

I had a talk with the vet by phone today. Whatever Querida has on her lip is getting worse and I really don't like the look of it. We're continuing to call it an ulcer for now (I forget the specific term the vet used), but she's going to the vet's tomorrow to have it biopsied. She's also not kicking her current URI, even though she's been on Baytril for about 2 weeks now.

While I had the vet on the line, I also discussed Owl and Pippin, who haven't shown much change after getting the parasite-killing treatment. I need to get a fresh stool sample from Pippin, if I can manage it. We agreed I could try Owl on the steroids, which I was all set to do tonight, when I realized he has a slight infection in one eye. He may have gotten nicked in a spat with Puck, or gotten something irritating in there. At any rate, I'll have to start with some ointment and get that cleared up before I can risk the steroids.

This morning, Ariel actually let me reach up and lightly touch her on the paw without jumping up and running away! She was on top of a high shelf looking down at me, so she may have felt more secure about it. She let me do it twice. A few minutes later, I tried it a third time. Then she sat up and gave me one of her patented Ariel-looks: "Just what do you think you're doing?" But she didn't run away either. I take it as a tiny victory.

My office floor is littered with an excess of cat toys. I keep stepping on them.

14 Oct. 2005
The Dowager Empress had a tough day. Querida went to the vet yesterday to have the growth on her lip examined and biopsied. The vet decided to go ahead and remove it. We discussed it and opted not to go for an expensive biopsy because even if it came back as cancerous, it would change nothing. I'm certainly not going to subject a nearly 19-year-old cat to chemo and radiation. All I can really do for her at this age is help her have the best quality of life I can manage.

She has one stitch in her lip, not too bad. But she voiced many, many complaints to me on the way home. She was not a happy moggy.

My vet is such a terrific person. While I was there with Querida, he told me that he'd just gotten back from a conference and while there he had discussed Owl's situation with a specialist. To paraphrase roughly, the suspicion is that Owl might have "silent" hyperthyroid. Meaning his tests may not show the kind of usual results expected, but his symptoms point in that direction anyway. It's possible for a hyperthyroid cat, or person, to actually suppress the T4 level that would be a clear giveaway, but other readings in Owl's case were suspicious, along with his condition.

Consequently, we're trying Owl on an extremely low initial dosage of thyroid medication and I'll keep a close eye on him to see what happens. I mentioned to my vet that I need to invest in a weight scale at home in order to track how my low-weight cats are doing. He said he has a cat scale at home gathering dust in his garage and he'll let me have it!

Vets like him are true gems.

16 Oct. 2005
I have a two-headed kitten on my lap because Saffy has piled on top of Zoe. Both heads of the two-headed kitten are resting on my right arm, which makes typing this entry very difficult.

Well, crap, Tribble was doing so well on the Baytril, that the vet agreed I could try him on the steroids again. I started giving him steroids (along with the Baytril) on Friday and by this morning he was pouring snot from his nose. It looks like he simply can't tolerate the steroids, which means we can't treat his nonspecific cystitis. I'm stymied for a way to get weight back on him given these conditions.

Querida has been throwing up every time I give her pills. This is also not a good thing. And some cat, I don't know who, has thrown up huge quantities during the day, but I was gone all day and so am in the dark. It's not the same as Querida's and there are a number of possible candidates. I suspect Tribble who is throwing up right at this very moment, damn it, but must have an empty stomach because nothing else is coming up. Sigh...

I am worried about a change in Kate's personality. She has always been such a quiet, passive cat, never caused a problem with any other cat. Now she has become short-tempered She growls and strikes out at her brother, Knobby, or at the kittens or whoever happens to annoy her at the moment. It's totally unlike her. She's getting up there in age, around 14, and it could be that she can't take the agitation caused by the kittens. Whatever it is, she's not being herself.

17 Oct. 2005
Randy and I have a living cartoon moment last night when we were relaxing on the living room sofa while Pippin and Opal ran around and around the sofa in circles at a gazillion miles an hour.

For some reason, Opal's stitches aren't going away as her sister's have, and she has a sore spot where a stitch down in the skin is badly irritating her. I have heavy deadlines for the next few weeks, so we talked about Randy taking her to our vet (who didn't do the actual spaying) to have the rest of the stitches removed and deal with the sore spot.

Seeing some improvement. Owl's eye is better. Tribble's URI is doing better. Sapphire has stopped sneezing. The lysine seems to have stopped Jetta from getting the sneezies.

Seeing some backsliding. I tried cutting Owl back to one anti-histamine tablet a day and he's already pulled a bare patch on his back. He's going back to two tablets a day.

I didn't have my camera earlier and missed an adorable photo of Puck cuddling up with Jetta with his leg around her. But here's one of Puck and Zoe which shows how big Zoe is getting. And she's only 6 months old!
Puck & Zoe
20 Oct. 2005
Poor Owl has been trying to get some time in my lap recently. He hasn't done this for a long time, so I'm happy to have settle in. But then along comes Zoe who has nearly taken up permanent residence in my lap. When she sees Owl there, she simply climbs on top of him. Owl immediately goes off in a huff, muttering about the rudeness of kittens.

22 Oct. 2005
Jetta is annoyed with me. The other night when I was giving her scritches, I noticed a small lump on the right side of her throat under the jaw, about where I would guess a lymph node would be. She seems perfectly fine otherwise, no signs of infections or problems and she's as active as ever. I keep checking it trying to decide whether it calls for a trip to the vet, and that's why she's annoyed. "Quick poking around my neck, already!"

Pippin has an amusing habit of lying next to the water bowl with one paw dangling at the water's surface. He does something I often see cats do -- he bats at the surface of the water, presumably to determine exactly where the surface is.

I'm uncertain about how Owl is doing on the thyroid regimen. As the vet suggested, we started with an extremely low dose and increased it only slightly after a week. It seems like he's showing less interest in his food, which would be a bad thing. Yesterday he threw up a hairball, probably because he pulled a bunch of fur off his back again, and he tried to throw up again a few minutes ago. I'll give it another week or so, then take him in for tests, unless I see something more worrisome develop.

I haven't seen a hair of Junior since I set him free weeks ago. Can't say that I'm surprised, but I thought he might get over it and show up for food now and then. Bowie's eye has recovered, though he tends to squint ever so slightly with it. Bowie is a regular and shows up for food nearly every day. He'll take naps on the rail of the front porch or hang out on the back steps. The other TNR "victims" have shown up occasionally, though nowhere near as often as Bowie. I sure wish we could tame him, but alas, no chance of that.

24 Oct. 2005
The cats have kept me busy with a vomit marathon. Tribble won in the Quantity category, requiring a lot of clean-up. Querida went for frequency. Owl's was more like haiku -- brief and mysterious. Even Puck got into it. I should invest in the company that makes paper towels, given how many I go through.

Zoe has been dominating my lap so much lately, that a couple of times I've had to move her so that Tribble or Owl can have a turn. Barring the unforeseen, she has a lot more future to look forward to in my lap than they do.

Nothing can get two people off a sofa faster than the sound of the house being brought down around our ears. Or so it sounded. In reality, it wasn't that bad. As I jumped up and began to run around the sofa, Pippin collided with my legs at warp 10 and nearly bowled me over. He was fleeing the scene of the crime. He had knocked my ceramic cat-headed lamp off the nightstand and knocked over a wastebasket in the process.

Later, he joyously tipped over a laundry basket and romped in freshly-washed underwear. He looks so cute in a pair of BVDs, we didn't care.

28 Oct. 2005
Is your moggy worth a trip to France?

It's proof of just how much we love a cat when it destroys something valuable and walks away scott-free. Pippin was playing in his usual enthusiastic way when he knocked over a broom which fell onto and shattered a glass keepsake of the Apollo moon mission that I've had since 1971. All I did was sigh and clean up the pieces.

He still wants to get that other black cat that lives in the mirror. He took a large graceful leap off the bedroom floor with an ungraceful THUNK into the mirror. He was undeterred, however, and next tried to dig his way to the cat-in-the-mirror.

Jetta played fetch with me! She actually brought me a toy to have me throw it and brought it back a couple of times. She must have learned this from Sapphire. Jetta's not quite as dedicated to it as Saffy, but I think it's cool that she learned to do it.

I came into my office and found a jar of baby food lying by the door. A few weeks ago, when I was having so much trouble getting Tribble to eat, Lolette suggested baby food. Now I give a dollop of baby food every morning to my problem babies, Querida, Tribble and Owl, to whet their appetites. They're addicted to baby food now, I think, but the kittens are also rabidly enthusiastic about it because they rush in to lick up whatever bits the old ones leave behind. I suspect it was Zoe, who was trying to work out how to get the jar open. I wouldn't put it past her to figure it out.

Another batch of cute kitty photos:
Ariel
Ariel: "What do you want now, human?"
Pippin
Pippin: "Hoarding? Who's hoarding?"
Pippin
Pippin in his Silly Pose.
Pippin
Pippin goes medieval on Randy's hand.
Sapphire
Sapphire: "Why lay on the cat bed when I can play under it?"
Sapphire
Sapphire: "Then again, it gets warm under there."
Sapphire
Sapphire: "Well, that was fun. What's next?"
Jetta & Zoe
Jetta gives Zoe a head-licking.
Jetta & Zoe
Zoe: "Get behind the ears, if you please."
Jetta & Zoe
Jetta: "These papparazzi are so annoying."

30 Oct. 2005
Last night, Randy and I were trying valiantly to read while Pippin and Opal were deconstructing the living room around us. We kept having to say things along the lines of "No, Pippin, get down from there!" or "No, Opal, bad girl!" It culminated in Pippin surfing to the floor on top of the dictionary, magazine and dayrunner I had on the table. We finally had to put them to bed in their own room so we could concentrate for more than five minutes at a stretch.
Opal & Pippin
"Who, us? We're innocent!"
Opal also thinks it's great fun to whack her mousie under the fridge or oven. She pretends it's getting away and just as it vanishes from sight, she lunges for it and hauls it back out...at least some of the time. In her enthusiasm, however, the mousie often goes waaaaay under the fridge. Then Opal looks up expectantly at us with big, innocent golden eyes. That is why you can ofen come into our kitchen and find a grown adult down on the floor with a flashlight and a long-handled wooden spoon "fishing" the mousie back out again.

As you might guess, having 14 cats in my office means it becomes a disgusting mess. The floor becomes awash in scattered litter, shreds of half-eaten paper, vomit residue, bits of cat food, cat hair, whiskers, shed cat claws, puffs of cat hair, hairballs, and more cat hair. It had reached critical mass this morning, so I went around gathering up the cat toys, balls and strings. I hauled out my trusty, ancient Kenmore vacuum cleaner, the one which has the hose now entirely made of duct tape. I went to work only to immediately discover that something was clogging the hose. I tried everything I could to unblock it, with no luck.

This is why Randy and I ended up at Ace Hardware in search of solution. I bought six feet of reinforced plastic tubing, flexible enough to go around the bends in the connectors, but stiff enough to push the blockage out of the hose. While we were there, we thought about how to create a shelter for the feral cats for the winter. We bought a square, sturdy Rubbermaid container, some polyurethane expanding foam to coat it for insulation, a mat for the inside, and a utility knife to cut a cat door into the entire thing. We'll have to figure out something for a flap for the cat door. We spent a ridiculous amount of money on something that will hold maybe one or two cats and with no idea whether any cat will go near it. Sigh...

However, the plastic tubing worked perfectly, the vacuum was restored to operation and my office looks a thousand times better. For about two days.

1 Nov. 2005
The kittens disembowelled two of their catnip toys. I've been picking up bits of catnip-laced stuffing from one end of the office to another. I suppose I should stop calling them kittens, now that they're seven months old, but I suspect they'll be kittens to me until they're full grown.

Opal's mousie had become disgusting from its many visits to the underbelly of the beast...I mean the refrigerator, so today it went through the washer with the laundry. Came out really well, too. She has a nice clean mousie with a fresh-stuffed belly of catnip.

I belately realized that we've had Ariel a year now. She came home with us Oct. 9th of last year. A year later, I still can't pet her, but I can get close and she's getting along fine as a member of the Horde. I'll keep working toward the day when I can actually touch her and she won't run away.

My wonderful vet called to say he had the weight scale at his office and I could pick it up any time. Since we need to do a follow-up on Owl, I made an appointment for tomorrow. My hunch is that the thyroid therapy isn't working, or at least isn't doing Owl any good, but I need to confirm that.

3 Nov. 2005
Owl went to the vet yesterday. He's gained an ounce in the past couple of weeks, which is hopeful news. Consequently, the vet wants me to keep him on the thyroid medicine and test his thyroid levels a couple of weeks from now. Owl has now pulled a large patch of hair from the left side of his back, in spite of the anti-histamines. The vet felt strongly that this wasn't the type of problem that would be caused by low thyroid or reaction to that medicine. Like every other vet before him, it is a mystery and he had no idea what to do about it, except give him hairball gel for the inevitable hairballs. I started Owl on Lysine a few days ago. I figure it can't hurt, but I sure wish I could solve this problem.

I've run out of Baytril for Tribble and Querida. I discussed it with the vet. Since it doesn't seem to be doing either one of them much good at the moment, we're taking them off it to see what happens.

I now have the vet's weight scale at home. He warned me it was an old one, and he wasn't kidding. It's not especially accurate either. Owl weighs a pound less on this one than he did at the vet's office. I took baseline weights for Owl, Tribble and Querida. Even if the scale isn't totally accurate, I can at least get a sense of whether they are gaining or losing weight. That's my main concern.

5 Nov. 2005
Querida got into my lap this afternoon. This is unusual behavior for her. She has never been a lap cat and rarely seeks out that kind of attention. Needless to say, I was pleased to have her there and gave her as much loving as she was willing to take. Querida only allows petting on her terms.

Opal keeps dropping her mousie in the water bowl where the water becomes catnip-infused. We now have rotating mousies, with a spare one on hand so that while one is drying out, there is one for her to continue batting under the refrigerator. Never let it be said we don't cater to the needs of our moggies.

I have discovered that a 7-month-old kitten's body can very effectively block the signal between a wireless mouse and keyboard and the transmitter. The transmitter has been moved to higher ground. Suddenly, the keyboard works again! Or until the cat hair overcomes it.

6 Nov. 2005
Zoe has become a nearly permanent lap feature. This makes it tough for any other cat ot get in my lap, such as Sapphire. I love having Zoe in my lap and I don't want to force her away, but I'd like the other cats to have a chance, too. Its a quandry.

I've had to chastize Kate severely a couple of times tonight for being so nasty to the young cats. Her bad temper continues.

The moggies are gathering around. They know it's that time of night, when I give out the pills, and more importantly, the TREATS. The dedicated treat fanatics are Zoe, Sapphire, Tosca and Diva. They will mug me for treats. Owl has shown a renewed interest in treats lately, which I'm rather glad to see. Trying to give treats to the other moggies without Zoe stealing it away is a challenge.

8 Nov. 2005
We're not sure what's going on, but Opal has become obsessive about drowning her mousies in the water bowl. We've lost count of the number of times we've pulled a soggy mousie from the water. Hmmm...maybe they've discovered they can get high from the catnip-infused water. Ah hah! They're stoner kittens.

Last night, Pippin was sitting in his favorite silly pose on the sofa, propped up against Randy with his feet in the air. And he gave us a magnificent display of his little red penis. "Look, I'm a boy! I'm a boy!" Randy wants to wait a while longer before we have Pippin fixed. I'm just glad we already took care of that with Opal. Which reminds me that Zoe's time has come. Must do that soon.

9 Nov. 2005
Sly is sick, very sick. I haven't mentioned it because of the distraction of all the other sick cats, but I've been watching him closely for weeks now. He was occasionally throwing up. However, he's gone downhill rapidly in the past few days. I can see he's lost weight and he's completely lethargic. I haven't been able to get him to eat anything, even canned food or baby food. I discovered last night that he had pus in one eye, so I'm treating that with eye ointment, which I keep on hand for just this sort of reason. He's theoretically about 13 years old, but I don't know for sure and I suspect he's older than that. I know he had some siblings that all died years ago.

Unfortunately, I have a business trip today, so I can't get him to the vet until tomorrow.

10 Nov. 2005
As I greatly feared, Sly's illness was fatal. I had a painful intuition that he was making a one-way trip to the vet. It was advanced liver disease, probably cancer. The vet found abnormalities on the liver using ultrasound. Sly was severely jaundiced, in addition to not being able to eat or drink and having lost so much weight. There was nothing I could do except end his pain. I rested his head on my hand and stroked him while the vet gave him the injection. Sly was his usual sweet, gentle self to the end.


Sly
SLY
??? to 10 Nov. 2005.
May you romp forever in sunny fields of catnip filled with lazy, fat mice and low, slow birds.

12 Nov. 2005
I also had Querida at the vet when I was there with Sly. The vet had asked me to bring her back for a follow-up check as soon as I could. He thought she sounded good and the recheck on her kidney functions came out fairly well. She seems to be under control for now, though she does continue to throw up.

So does Tribble and he's now throwing up frequently, like almost every time he eats. This is not good, given how painfully thin he is. Somehow he still has energy and gets around all right, but I'm going to try adding formula to soft food for him to see if that helps.

I had a brief discussion again with the vet about Owl's IBS. I'm still seeing blood in his stools. Consequently, I bought special dry food for him and have instituted a new feeding regimen so that this food is the only thing he gets. As you might imagine with so many other cats and the kittens, this is not easy.

Owl is being locked up in the Cave at night with his food. First thing in the morning, I put away the bowls of regular dry food, let Owl out of the Cave, dole out the pills. Then I give Tribble, Querida and Owl their baby food inside the Cave (mainly to keep the kittens out). I let Tribble and Querida out. I put Owl's dry food in the Cave with him. I give out the canned food to the rest of the cats. I change the water and clean the cats boxes. By that time, the rest of the Horde have polished off the canned food. I let Owl out.

The cats go without food until about mid-afternoon. I put Owl back in the Cave with his dry food and put the other dry food out for about 15 minutes. Then I put all the food away and let Owl out.

Finally, when I wrap up for the night, I give out the pills, lock Owl in the Cave with his food for the night, and put out the dry food for the Horde.

Owl promptly went on a hunger strike. He did NOT want to eat that food. On the first day, when I came back to my office after lunch, Querida was quacking most petulantly at me until I realized she was saying, "WHERE'S THE DAMNED FOOD?!!"

Owl broke down and ate his new food this afternoon. He's also been protesting by throwing up. I had to wash the cover on his cat bed yesterday.

I'm a bit worried about how this regimen will be carried out when I'm out of town, but I guess I'll just have to work that out somehow.

14 Nov. 2005
I once again have Zoe and Saffy heaped in my lap, one atop the other. It's no wonder I come in from my office with my shoulder muscles knotted trying to work around the sprawling, furry mass.

Tribble goes to the vet yet again tomorrow. He has been throwing up buckets and throwing up frequently. I've also heard him sneeze a few times, so possibly he has a cat cold. I'm not sure what the vet can possibly do at this stage, but if Tribble gets any thinner, he'll fade away.

We have a wonderful time watching Pippin catch dust motes. Pippin sits in beams of light coming through slatted blinds in the living room in the afternoon. Bits of dust and hair float in the air, lit by the beams. He watches them, fascinated, his head turning this way and that. The sunlight glistens off his ebony whiskers. Then he stands up and tries to clamp the mote between his front paws. They always elude him, but he keeps trying.

16 Nov. 2005
Tribble had his day at the vet yesterday. I was surprised but very happy to discover he's added 4 ounces to his weight. It's not much, but in his condition, I'll go for very ounce we can get. Based on yesterday's blood tests, there's indication of some kind of gastrointestinal problem (possibly internal bleeding) rather than indications of kidney problems. I couldn't afford to go for a bunch of other, more expensive tests, so what we're trying now is to treat him as though he has the equivalent of an ulcer. He's getting a liquid version of Tagamet.

I also picked up some Royal Canin food that the vet prescribed for Querida, given that she does have renal problems. But I'm giving the food to Owl and Tribble at the same time. I figure it can't hurt.

I'm having a serious problem with Puck. I love and adore Puck. He was a cat who was quite determined about adopting us. He was a sweet, happy cat until we moved down here. He's been miserable for the past year and a half because he's locked up inside. Unfortunately, his unhappiness and frustration is turning into worse and worse aggression against the other cats. He was threatening Knobby and I broke that up before it got started. He immediately turned around and attacked Kate. He chased her around the office and beat her up. I chased him around and finally got hold of him briefly. He got away from me, ran over and attacked Owl. I finally grabbed Puck and locked him up in the Cave to cool off. Kate and Owl don't seem to be injured, but they were badly freaked out by the unexpected and nasty attacks.

This just isn't working. I'm afraid I'll have to find a new home for Puck where he can be both an indoor and outdoor cat. I sincerely doubt he will ever be happy again without that option.

I had a big laugh upon going into the kitchen last night and finding a rubber frog on the floor in front of the fridge. This is so funny because he's one of three rubber frogs that live in the shower. Either he made a break for it, or one of the kittens decided to take him for a trip to the kitchen.

Owl is on my desk saying, "It's DINNER TIME! Get off the computer! Feed me!" I must obey.

18 Nov. 2005
I had a nice moment yesterday when I came upon Ariel curled up in cat bed. She didn't jump up and run away, so I held out my fingers for her to sniff. She didn't move away, so I carefully stroked her back foot several times. She still didn't run away! I left it at that as I didn't want to push my luck.

This morning, however, she threw up a lot of clear liquid. I hope it was a one-off thing and that she's not sick. My greatest worry is that Ariel will be sick or get injured and it will be nearly impossible to deal with her.

I really don't want to give up on Puck too quickly, so I've decided to try something that a lovely blog reader suggested. I ordered a pheromone device that mists calming feline pheromones into the air. I'll be very curious to see what effect it has. My hope is that I'll get lucky and it will help not only Puck, but Owl and Ariel and everybody else. Maybe even me. ;)

19 Nov. 2005
The pheromone mister thingie has arrived and has been plugged in. Now we can only wait and see. Oh, that's interesting. At the moment I typed those words, after the mister has been running maybe half an hour, Zoe (who was sleeping in my lap) put her nose into the air and began sniffing with unusual interest. Then she got out of my lap and went to the edge of my desk to do some more sniffing. Now she's simply sitting next to the keyboard looking at me. In the meantime, Saffy moved into the vacated lap.

Tribble is doing well so far. I haven't seen or found any indications that he's thrown up in the past few days. He really likes the prescription dry food, so I'm letting him have as much as he wants. Owl isn't as crazy about it, but at least he's eating it.

30 Nov. 2005
I meant to post something here before I left, but I ran out of time. I've been out of town visiting family on an extended Thanksgiving stay. I had a good kitten fix while I was there when I went to see a long-time friend who just adopted a new kitten. I spent an hour or so playing with the kitten while we talked. The kitten is an adorable ball of fluff, as you can see below.


orange kitten
My Horde was very happy to see me again. I don't know how well the pheromone mister has been working in my absence. I'm not sensing a lot of mellow so far. I'm just about out of all the cat food, both prescription and otherwise, so I'm afraid a trip to Bakersfield looms large in my immediate future. There's nothing more distracting than a horde of hungry moggies.

1 Dec. 2005
Part of my usual routine in the morning is to go upstairs and let Pippin and Opal out of their room. My first morning back, I came out of the bathroom to find both of the frolicking on top of Randy who was still in bed. He said that while I was gone, they figured out how to open the door! Apparently, the door to that room doesn't always latch properly. They've been letting themselves out and coming down to greet him in the morning.

Ariel is sneezing. I hope she doesn't come down with something.
Pippin & Opal
Pippin & Opal

3 Dec. 2005
Kate had her visit to the vet. She's only been to a vet a couple of times in her life and has been mostly healthy in the past. But she's 14 1/2 and getting up there in age. I won't get the results of the blood test until next week. I suspect she's hyperthyroid, given the weight loss and the condition of her fur getting worse (dry and coarse).

I put Owl in the Cave as usual last night, but Tribble desperately wanted to be inside and eat the special dry food, so I decided to leave both of them in there. It's rather small a space for two cats, but they get along and might even like sharing their warmth as the nights get colder. I figured it was worth the experiment.

This morning, I discovered that the irrepressible Zoe had wormed her way into the Cave and polished off the food. She is simply a fur-covered Hoover, the way she sucks up food. And naturally, whatever food Owl and Tribble had in their hideaway must be better than all the dry food that was outside, free for the taking. She does this all the time and I've gone to great lengths to keep her out of the Cave. I've had to place a heavy storage tub in front of the gate because Zoe manages to pry open the bottom corner of it and slither inside. Then she found a couple of small holes in the top part of the desk that forms the Cave and managed to squeeze down inside through the hole. I blocked that up, or so I thought.

She pushed aside the object I used to block the hole. When she was done eating all the food, she still managed to push open the bottom corner of the gate and get out because I was careless about how I'd placed the tub. From now on, I have to be sure the tub is set flush against the gate and will use something much heavier to block the hole.

Adorable little monster-kitten that she is. She's 7 months old now, and I haven't gotten her fixed yet. I shall have to deal with that next week.

That will leave only Pippin remaining to be fixed, but Randy is reluctant. He wants to hold off as long as possible before whacking Pippin, to let him fully grow and develop. I'm thinking Jan. for that to take place. Pip will be going on 10 months in Jan. and that's long enough.

I was updating my cat list, the list of every cat I've had from about 1973 onwards. The cats in the "Gone to Bast" section of the Horde page is only a tiny fraction of them. Per my list, I've had and lost 55 cats over the past 32 years. That's a fair number. Some were old cats I'd had a long time and some were kittens I only had a very short time, but they all count, bless their furry little souls.

5 Dec. 2005
Zoe managed to push aside the larger object I used to block the hole and get inside the Cave with Owl again. I realized it as soon as I came into my office and she wasn't there to greet me as usual. She was able to get inside, but this time she wasn't able to get out.

I rounded up a couple of bricks and used those to block off the hole. She hasn't found a way around those obstacles yet. {g}

It seems to me that the Feliway pheromone mister isn't working. It's been plugged in for a couple of weeks, but it doesn't look to me as though the level of the liquid has gone down at all. And I'm not seeing any mellowness around here either. I had to rescue Diva from Puck a couple of times. I guess I'll give it another couple of weeks, and if the liquid level hasn't changed, I can be pretty sure something's wrong with it.

6 Dec. 2005
Whoa! Ariel just jumped onto my desk, immediately to the right of my keyboard. Seeing a tabby out of the corner of my eye, I assumed it was Zoe and reached out to stroke her back. You should have seen Ariel leap! I wonder what possessed her to do such a thing, given her firm rule against NO TOUCHING BY HUMANS.

No news on Kate's tests yet. I should certainly get news by tomorrow. I can hear Kate in the back corner of the office throwing up, poor thing.

7 Dec. 2005
The vet called and went over the results of Kate's blood work. Everything, with one single exception, everything came back normal and good. Kidney, liver, blood count is good. No diabetes. No thyroid problem. No infectious diseases...the only exception being a test that indicated that at some time in her life she was exposed to or had a particular corona virus. If it was current and active, she'd have peritonitis, but she certainly doesn't have that, so it's just a marker from something old. Probably the minor illness she had a couple of years ago.

All this good news means we still don't have a clue what's wrong with her. The next steps would involve looking for parasites in a fecal sample and x-raying her stomach. She could have cancer, of course. Or she could simply have an irritated stomach and be grouchy because of the kittens. At the moment, it remains a mystery.

For now, I'm going to keep an eye on her. The other tests will have to wait until I get caught up on what I owe the vet. I'm behind on my account by over a couple hundred dollars, and I don't want that to get out of control.

I brought inside a large set of wind chimes, now that winter has arrived. I hung them from my coat tree. Jetta swatted at the hanging wind paddle (or whatever it's called) and then ran off startled by the sound it produced. Any time a kitten decides to ring my chimes, they run off and look worried. Or when I take something on or off the stand and the chimes ring, the kittens jump up and run away. I'm sure that will wear off soon enough, but it's been amusing.

I've received some truly wonderful email recently from readers of this blog. The kind of email that makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over. Oh, wait, that's the cats. I had Tribble in my lap rubbing my hand while I tried to type and Zoe on the back of my chair licking my ear. With the cold temps lately and just the two heaters for warmth, I'm routinely surrounded by heaps of moggies cuddling up to the heaters and one another to get warm.

But as I was saying, it's been wonderful to know that the blog reaches people around the world and that everyday stories of cats can touch hearts and minds. Thank you all.

8 Dec. 2005
The unstoppable Zoe managed to squirm her way into the Cave yet again. Although I used bricks to lodge the weight scale over the hole at the top of the enclosure, she figured out how to force her way under the scale.

But I finally came up with something she can't move, budge or squirm under or around -- my old computer. It's mostly just an oversized paperweight now, with no hard drive, but it's the right size and plenty heavy enough to serve this purpose. Henh henh.

I've changed the feeding schedule slightly. Since the cats have access to dry food all night, I decided to stop giving them the canned food first thing in the morning. Instead, I'm giving it out after lunch. That seems to be working better. By that time, none of them have eaten for hours and are more than ready for it. I need a way to encourage Querida, Tribble and Owl to eat more of the Royal Canin pouch food, and this helps.

Puck went after Knobby today. Definitely no mellowness setting in yet.

9 Dec. 2005
The cat furniture arrived today! The piece we put in the house came mostly assembled. It was quick and easy to put up. Pippin and Opal love it!

The other piece for the office was far more difficult. It was entirely in numerous pieces and was rather like a jigsaw puzzle. I spent about an hour screwing it together, discovered I'd made a major mistake, undid half of it, redid it and finally have it assembled. The office moggies were curious while I was working on it, but have been somewhere between baffled and wary about once it was up. Owl spent the entire time asking me, "What is it? What is it? What is it?"

I think they need some time to figure it out. I played with the kittens in and around it, and I sprinkled some Pixie Dust (catnip) on it, but they're still figuring it out.

I've taken a lot of photos, but those will take me some time to process. I'll put them up as soon as I can.

13 Dec. 2005
I made one more adjustment to the location of the spiral furniture here in the office. I moved it out of the corner and right next to one of the heaters, which puts it a few feet to the right of me. The catbed at top now overhangs the heater. I figured this would made it even more attractive to the moggies, and I was right. Saffy was in it when I first came in and cats have come and gone all day. Puck is in it right now.

I also bought a laser pointer for the office moggies. It's a big hit. Theseus and the three kittens go berserk over it. Owl gives it quizzical looks. The rest of the older cats mostly ignore it.

I'm on a tight script deadline, so I may be scarce for a couple of days.

11 Dec. 2005
Today's offering is, as they say these days, a metric buttload of photos.

A general sampling of photos of the Moggy Horde.
Ariel
Ariel caught in the act of...playing!
moggies around a heater
A horde of moggies gathers around the heater: at top, Zoe, then Puck cuddling with Sapphire, Theseus, Jetta and Owl.
moggies around a heater
Left to right: Querida licks Kate. Theseus, Zoe and Puck line up. At top, Owl shares space with Sapphire.
Theseus, Zoe & Puck
Left to right: Theseus, Zoe and Puck. The butts at the top are Owl and Sapphire.
Opal & Pippin
A cat's eye view of Opal and Pippin on the prowl.
Puck & Ariel
Puck and Ariel form a tabby pudding.
Puck & Ariel
Ariel accuses me of being a perve. Puck looks sooo pleased with himself.
Tribble, Querida and Owl
Tribble, Querida and Owl wait for release from the Cave after gettng their special food.
Jetta
Jetta: "Die, fuzzy toy, die!"
Jetta
Followed by a quick bit of disembowelling.
Jetta
Taking a breather from her lethal activities.

Pippin and Opal enjoying their new treehouse.
Pippin & Opal
Pippin: "What's this? An early xmas present? Look at the cool dangling bit."
Pippin & Opal
Opal: "Let the climbing begin!"
Pippin & Opal
Opal: "Time to get the dangly bit."
Pippin & Opal
Pippin & Opal
Pippin & Opal
Pippin & Opal
Opal: "I see you, brother."
Pippin & Opal
Pippin: "So? I can still get you."
Pippin & Opal
Pippin: "That was fun. What else did you get us?"

The assembling of the Spiral Penthouse, with numerous cat inspections.
Owl examines the many parts and pieces as I begin assembling the cat furniture called The Spiral Penthouse.
Tribble comes around for a look.
Puck joins the investigation.
Sapphire joins Puck as step one is put in place.
Jetta has a look at step one.
Puck double checks my work on step 2. Unfortunately, he failed to tell me I'd put the post in the wrong place.
Jetta keeps the instructions from wandering away, for all the good it did me.
Correctly assembled at last, with Tribble and Zoe having a look.
Kate has a sniff.
Jetta, Zoe and Sapphire check it out. The big orange blob to the right is Theseus, talking to Querida who is eating her special dinner in the Cave. On the far right, a glimpse of Puck, whose supervising is done.
Owl, Theseus, Jetta and Zoe investigate a bit more.
A touch of "Pixie Dust" brings out the catnip junkie in Owl.
Zoe and Sapphire decide the new position for the spiral is fine by them.
The old Grand Dame, Querida, decides she likes it, too.

16 Dec. 2005
I've been working flat-out for the past few days to meet a script deadline. The moggies did their best to help, of course, mainly by providing plenty of distractions. Puck has not mellowed under the influence of the Feliway mister. If anything, he's gotten more playful, but I still have to keep playing cop with him when he picks on other cats. Saffy sat next to me and stared at invisible objects in the air with unnerving intensity. Tribble whined about food a lot. Zoe crawled into my lap frequently. In spite of all this, the script got done. ;)

I had to call the vet to get more antibiotics for Querida, who once again has blood in her urine. The vet kindly mailed them to me, as I didn't have time to make that blasted drive to Bakersfield. He's seen Querida enough and been through enough bouts of this to know what the situation is with her.

When I came into the office this morning, I saw a tabby curled up in the cat bed on top of the Spiral Penthouse. I went over and started to pet it, thinking it was Puck, but suddenly realized it was Ariel! For one breathless instant, I thought she might actually stay there and let me pet her, but in the next second, she decided that the NO TOUCHING rule was still in effect and leapt out of there. Ah, well. All I can do is keep trying.

17 Dec. 2005
Ariel was playing with Saffy, a nice thing to see. Maybe the Feliway mister is affecting her, if not Puck. I know the mister is working now because the level of the liquid is steadling going down after I unplugged it, reaffixed the bottle and plugged it back in.

I notice that Owl, Querida and Tribble are doing a better job of eating their special pouch food now that I'm mashing it up. None of my cats seem to like food that has little square bits in it. They lick the sauce it comes in, but ignore the square bits. So lately, before I open a new pouch, I mash it with a brick. Yes, there's an image to reckon with. A grown woman mashing a plastic pouch of cat food with a brick. But hey, it works.

19 Dec. 2005
It was obvious as soon as I walked into my office that there had been a fight. What gave it away? Oh, all the tufts of fur lying around the base of the Spiral, and even up on the steps of the Spiral. Not just a couple tufts of fur, but many. I can't be certain who was involved. The fur was dark, probably black. And since Puck continues to pick fights, I can fairly easily guess it was Puck picking on one of his favorite victims -- Knobby, Diva or Kate. I couldn't find any signs of injury, though Knobby seemed rather out of sorts, so he may have been the one who lost the fur.

After quite a long time of not throwing up, Tribble left me a patch to clean up this morning. I was hoping the new meds were keeping that under control. Still, this is the first time in weeks, which is better than before.

Both pieces of cat furniture continue to be a bit hit. Moving the Spiral next to the heater was my smartest move and there's nearly always a cat sleeping there now. In the house, Pippin and Opal have an absolutely wonderful time on their Treehouse, playing and climbing on it, and sleeping in it.

20 Dec. 2005
I tried weighing Owl and Tribble on the old scale the vet loaned me. I was profoundly unhappy to see both of them have lost weight, if I can trust what that scale is telling me. Owl is seemingly down several ounces and Tribble is down a few ounces. This is not good given the extremes I've gone to with their diet and meds. I wish, wish, wish I had a reliable digital scale. Sigh...

Randy's presents arrived in a very large plastic mailing bag which has become an instant cat toy -- the Crinkly Plastic Cave! Much noisy fun has been had inside the bag.

Puck is showing too much interest in Zoe's rear end. I must get her fixed right after xmas.

21 Dec. 2005
I found a fish floating in the water bowl. It was a catnip-fish, of course. There was a second, equally soggy fish lying next to the bowl. What's extraordinary is that the tortie sisters, Opal and Sapphire, have developed the same behaviors while being completely separated from one another. They both independently began fetching their toys. Opal's been drowning her mousie for a long time, though this is the first time it's happened out here. Maybe it was accidental (though there were two wet fish). It brings up the whole issue of nature vs. nurture. I can't see how their mother could have taught them these particular behaviors. Could they have inherited such traits genetically? It's fascinating.

Opal does one amusing thing I haven't seen Saffy do. Opal uses her paw to knock pieces of dry food out of the bowl so she can eat them off the floor.

Buncha moggy photos:
Ariel
Ariel looks especially fetching with the matching calendar image on the shelf above her.
Ariel, Sapphire
Ariel gets silly on the new scratching post while Sapphire ponders her next move. Notice the condition of the scratching post. This was more or less intact when I brought it into the office and this is how it looked half an hour later after the Moggies Sans Mercy got done with it.
Diva
Diva wishes the nasty flash would go away.
Tosca
Diva's mother, Tosca, on the Spiral.
Jetta, Sapphire
Jetta seized the Fluffy-Ball-With-Legs toy and made off it it. However, it came with string and rod attached, which proved irresistible to Sapphire.
Jetta, Sapphire
The chase continued around the perimeter of the office.
Tosca, Jetta, Sapphire
Tosca observes as Saffy tries to pin down the elusive rod.
Puck
The Puckster in a quiet moment.
Querida
Querida enjoys the Spiral.
Sapphire, Querida, Zoe
Sapphire occupies the "penthouse" while Querida and Zoe have a discussion about who will be where on the steps.
Sapphire on Puck
Sometimes Puck is a bully, and sometimes he's a mattress. Sapphire makes herself at home.
Sapphire
Sapphire is plum tuckered out from all this lying around on top of Puck.
Zoe
Zoe in the penthouse, perfecting her Cuteness Ray.

22 Dec. 2005
A reader wrote to me about her cat that dunks objects in the water bowl, so I guess mine aren't unique. {g}

Tribble threw up again last night, blast it. I'm thinking very seriously of putting up the cage and locking up Tribble at night, the same as I do with Owl, so that Tribble is also restricted to eating only the prescription food. He loves that food and it's easier for him to digest. He won't be happy about being locked up. The cage takes up a lot of space in the office, too. But the more I think about it, the more I think I should do it. If he keeps throwing up after eating only that food, I'll know I have a more serious problem on my hands. Well...I know that anyway, given how skinny he is. There just isn't a whole lot more I can do for the poor old guy.

Tosca stole one of Querida's Baytril, after I set it out on the desk and went looking for Querida. Tosca likes the taste of the Baytril, as near as I can tell, and I can no longer leave a piece of it where she can get to it.

23 Dec. 2005
We're going on a short trip, so there will be no Moggyblog for a couple of days. Which meant Randy and I opened our presents tonight. Pippin and Opal got to help in the categories of Paper Pouncing and Box Investigation.

Tribble survived his night in the cage and hasn't thrown up, so that's promising.

I received two replacement parts for the Spiral Penthouse today. When I first put it together, there was a problem with the screw that fastens the catbed at the top of the furniture, which left the catbed spinning freely rather than being tightly in place. The company quickly and painlessly sent the replacements. The new catbed piece is nice and secure, and the old catbed piece is tucked under my desk. No point letting it go to waste.

A friend sent me this link. It's a Wookie xmas carole. It spooked my moggies. Try it on your moggies!
http://christmaschebacca.ytmnd.com/

A happy holiday of whatever flavor you celebrate and I'll "see" you in a few days.

27 Dec. 2005
The moggies were extremely happy to see us after our three-day trip. Zoe, Sapphire and Kate played a continuous game of musical lap while I was at my computer, and most of the Horde came out to greet me. Afterwards, in the house, Pippin and Opal were all over us and made it clear they had missed us.

As we were coming home, we stopped off at one of the local restaurants for dinner and the first people we saw were our petsitters. That was handy. It gave me a chance to hear first-hand how things went. Tribble threw up once while I was gone.

Back on the 19th, I found evidence of a fight in my office. I figured it was Puck picking on Knobby, but when I checked out Knobby, I didn't find obvious signs of injury. I guess I didn't check well enough. I noticed Knobby hadn't come out to greet me or show up for food today. Randy came into the office around 6:30 tonight, went around to pet all the cats, located Knobby curled up on a shelf, and found a big hole in Knobby's neck. A couple of big, nasty holes, actually. It looks like he blew out a double abscess while I was gone, probably from two puncture wounds. Poor old guy.

I got a grip on him and cleaned it up, shaved the fur away from the injury, squirted a bunch of Neosporin into it and gave him some Amoxicillin. I try to always keep a supply of Amoxi around for exactly this reason. It wasn't a pleasant job.

One has to have a strong stomach to deal with moggies.

My next sacrificial victim, Zoe, goes to the vet tomorrow to be spayed on Thurs. I'll have to pick up more Amoxi while I'm there.

Henh, I'm listing to Radio Paradise (internet radio) and they're playing a Kate Bush song that features bird songs and it's driving the cats crazy.

28 Dec. 2005
Knobby is doing well. He came out begging for treats this morning and allowed me to clean him up, pill him, etc. Soon he may take to avoiding me, but for now it's going pretty well.

I have a problem with my car, so Randy drove us to Bakersfield this afternoon to drop the unfortunate Zoe at the vet to have her reproductive innards removed. She was highly vocal the entire way there. That's 45 non-stop minutes of "I AM NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS!" in a great variety of tones and decibels.

I miss Zoe tonight. She's usually in my lap or in my face. However, Tribble is doing his best to take her place. He sheds a lot more hair into the keyboard than she does, though.

29 Dec. 2005
Pippin's To Do List:
   Chase Opal around the house.
   Knock over laundry basket so that the clean laundry and I go tumbling all over the floor.
   Chew up new cardboard box.

Opal's To Do List:
   Chase Pippin around the house.
   Knock the rubber frogs and rubber mouse into the bathtub.
   Sit quietly on clean laundry.
   Race out of the bedroom into the living room, leap onto the top of the cat furniture, leap to the top of the bookcase, through the bannister and up the stairs, in under five seconds with no pauses in motion whatsoever.

When I looked out the kitchen window this morning, I spotted Gizmo (the neighbor's very nice, young black cat) high in the branches of the sequoia. I've seen him there before. By odd coincidence, I hang the birdfeeder in the sequoia. I looked at him through my binoculars and he stared straight at me with big golden eyes. He knew, with that special sense cats have, that I was looking at him. He then worked his way down to the ground.

I think Sapphire misses Zoe. She wasn't very interested in fetching the fishy the morning.

30 Dec. 2005
The past couple of days, Querida has been climbing into my lap. This may not sound extraordinary, except that this is something she never does. She has never, ever been a lap cat or one to actively seek out affection, though she's become more affectionate as she's gotten older. As Dowager Empress, she demanded that attention be given only when she wanted to receive it, at her time and at her bidding.

Zoe is home, but it wasn't a peaceful homecoming. I had to get work done and Randy had an appointment in Bakersfield, so he picked her up. He said the drive home took ten years. I think he meant ten years off his life. He said Zoe was insanely pissed off and upset the entire way home. When we let her out here, Saffy immediately began attacking her, having apparently forgotten who she was in the intervening two days. We didn't want to leave Zoe unprotected while we had dinner, so I quickly set up the cage and left her in there. She was plenty unhappy about that, too, and made quite a mess for me to clean up.

She's out now and so far things are peaceful, but I think I'm going to let her spend the night in the cage as a precaution. She needs to be kept quiet at least one more night to recover from the surgery.

And now, a photo-adventure about cat toys and the short lives they can lead when exposed to the ravages of the Moggy Horde. It's not a pretty sight.
Puck, Jetta
Here's the new bell toy that came with the Spiral Penthouse, right after I attached it. Already, Puck and Jetta are doing their nefarious work.
Jetta
Yeah...this thing's going to last. Har, har.
Sapphire
Sapphire continues the work.
Zoe
Zoe plays innocent.
Puck
The final stage of the bell's demise, as Puck pretends he had nothing to do with it.
cat toys
The generous donor who sent the weight scale also sent some toys. Here are the two packages of smaller toys.
Puck
Here's the bigger toy -- the ball-in-a-maze. Having finished off the bell, Puck immediately went to work on this.
Puck
But the ball defied him.
Sapphire
Sapphire took her turn.
Sapphire
Sapphire
Theseus
Theseus didn't even bother to get up. He just reached out a big paw and pulled it over to him for a look.
Tribble
Then old Tribble got into it!
Tribble
Tribble
go, Tribble, go!
Jetta
Jetta gives it a whirl.
Opal
Later, I took the ball-maze into the house so Opal could try it out. She was quite taken with it.
Opal
Pippin
Pippin had to watch and think about it for the longest time before he finally decided to try it out.
Pippin

31 Dec. 2005
For my final post of 2005, I'd like to admit I'm a dork. I ommitted one of the main pieces of news yesterday, and that is a public thank you to Bonnie Jo Davis who bought and sent me a brand spanking-new weight scale, along with a bunch of cat toys (featured in the photos I posted yesterday, duhhh).

I put it together and immediately weighed the two cats with the weight loss problems, Owl and Tribble. The good news is that they're holding steady. They haven't gained weight (which would be great), but they haven't lost it. The vet said to me that at this stage, his hope is that they at least hold steady and don't continue to lose. Tribble seems to be constantly hungry, poor boy. He eats and eats, but I suspect it isn't getting properly into his system.

Another shout-out goes to the Irish Moggyblog fan club, Louise McGrath and Darren Walsh, who likewise sent a generous donation towards buying a scale, but which instead went toward removing those certain portions of Zoe's innards. Zoe may not appreciate it, but I certainly do.

Speaking of Zoe, she and Saffy are back to being friends, though Zoe is much quieter than her usual self and hasn't bounced back from the surgery quite yet.

And now, it's time to go into the house and pour a glass of Bailey's to welcome in what I hope will be a much better year than the last.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, y'all!

Ariel
Ariel the Food Slut.


Kate
Kate of the Soulful Eyes


Puck with ball
Puck says, "Could I get any cuter?"


\Nefreet
Nefreet the psycho-kitty


Querida
Querida the Matriarch


Tribble
Tribble blinks for the camera.


Owl
Owl the Magnificent


Owl
Owl post-surgery.


Theseus & Tribble
Theseus and Tribble


Tosca
Tosca the golden-eyed


Theseus
Theseus the Furry Tank


Knobby
Knobby


Diva
Diva displays her adornment of burrs.


Owl
Owl says, "Can't a guy lick his crotch in peace around here?"


Owl
Unfortunately, Owl can no longer do this because of his bad leg.


Puck & Blue
Puck and Blue, the Tabby Mafia.


Theseus and Owl
Theseus & Owl demonstrate why I have trouble getting work done.


Sly
Sly does his cross-eyed Samurai imitation.